AIM: This paper is a report of a pilot study to identify women's perceptions of participation in a holistic intervention for postnatal depression. BACKGROUND: Approximately 10-15% of women suffer from postnatal depression following childbirth. Most programmes for women with postnatal depression include pharmaceutical interventions; however, evaluation of women's perceptions of participation in holistic programmes for those suffering from postnatal depression show that non-pharmaceutical programmes can also be effective. METHOD: In-depth interviews were conducted in 2004 with a self-selected sample of 10 women prior to and after an intervention to treat postnatal depression. FINDINGS: The intervention seemed capable of encouraging and facilitating a positive mother-infant relationship while also effectively reducing the mother's anxiety levels. Participants commented on the supportive environment of other mothers and said that they found playing with their babies difficult and needed guidance and facilitation to do this. CONCLUSION: The pilot programme was well accepted and could easily be used by midwives, maternal and child health nurses and other appropriately trained allied health professionals.