Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#CBR6 Reviews #17-18: More on Art Therapy...

I promise that I will read and review something different soon, I’ve just been very focused on my school readings right now. And so, here is some more on art therapy! And two very different approaches and focuses within the field at that:

- Studio Art Therapy: Cultivating the Artist Identity in the Art Therapist by Catherine Moon
- Introduction to Art Therapy: Sources & Resources by Judith A. Rubin

Judith Rubin’s Introduction to Art Therapy is just that: an overview of the different possibilities inherent in the field of art therapy, taking a look at the various pioneers of the field who contributed to its history and progression to today, as well as many of the different theories and practical models that may inform one’s practice. The book is a conglomerate of a broad scope of information, yet doesn’t go too in-depth in any particular area. Interspersed throughout, Rubin provides personal cases that she has faced with a number of clients over the years, showing how each client who receives art therapy is different, and therefore requires a sensitivity from the therapist as to which approach will work best for them. While interesting, I found the book to be a little thin in terms of providing just a quick glimpse of a wide range of topics and theories, without providing any true of understanding of any of them. But as a starting-point to possibly inspire more researching and reading into one of the many areas covered? That’s basically what I felt like I was getting into.

Catherine Moon’s Studio Art Therapy on the other hand, was presented as though the reader was already an art therapist (or someone studying art therapy) themselves. Although she clearly presented some of the practical and theoretical bases of the field and her practice, the majority of the book came across as a personal reflection of the importance of knowing the self before being able to help others or to sense what another may need. Many of the stories of clients and experiences Moon presents show how much she relies on her senses and being attuned to the situation and energy of those around her to determine what best to do in any therapeutic situation. Maybe coming across as a bit whimsical or metaphysical at times, I appreciated how sensitive Moon appears to be to others and their needs, as well as her own. This is definitely a skill that I am trying to work on in myself, particularly for my own future studies and (hopefully) work in art therapy.

At the end of the day, Judith Rubin’s introductory book might be good for someone who wants an overview of the field of art therapy, while Catherine Moon’s would be beneficial to those looking at practicing art therapy and being unsure as to how one might come to foster their identity as an artist, a therapist, or both.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Friday, June 6, 2014

#CBR6 Review #16: Spirituality and Art Therapy: Living the Connection by Mimi Farrelly-Hansen

An edited collection of essays from a number of different practicing art therapists, from a diversity of backgrounds. Each author presents a different view of art therapy practices, and stems from a different spiritual background, yet they all focus on the connection between creative expression, artistic practices, and the spiritual sense of the human soul. Ranging anywhere from Christianity to Buddhism to Spiritualities connected to the Natural world, the authors tell their personal stories, as well as those of clients that they have worked with, all using the arts to connect them with something greater outside of the self. In turn, discovery of the self and the spirit comes from relating and engaging in the artistic and spiritual world.

Now, this all may sound a little hokey to some, and I understand that: art therapy isn't for everyone. But for those that can really engage and connect to the process, it can be vital in providing a sense of healing, or at the very least, a release of some kind. This book definitely has it's ups and downs in terms of essays that really resonated with me, but all in all, I found myself understanding where the authors and artists were coming from. Being an artist and student of art therapy myself, it would reason that I would find Farrelly-Hansen's collection to be interesting and informative. For others, however, it may be a little dry or seem a little too whimsical. I just don't really know anymore, as when I speak to some about the idea of art therapy, they are incredibly receptive and see it as being a very useful practice. Yet when I speak to others, they are extremely skeptical about the whole thing, and think that it would be a waste of time. I suppose that is what this book would be like, as well: you might buy into it, you might not. Just like the whole concept of spirituality and the multitude of ways to look at that in itself, not even in relation to artistic practices.

One of my personal favourite instalments within the compilation was entitled "Each Time a New Breath" by Bernie Marek, which looked at the creative process through a Buddhist lens: the intake and outtake of experience, moment by moment, allowing things to be present as they need to be, and healing through having a sense of wholeness of the self, opening up to the rawness of our world and our experiences. 
I'm realizing that this review isn't coming across as helpful at all, is it? I guess all I can say is that I found Spirituality and Art Therapy: Living the Connection to be easy to read, and I can definitely see how it relates and will be helpful to my understanding of my studies (yes, this is once again a book I am reading for school). If you are interested in art therapy and how it relates to spirituality, then by all means, read it as well! I certainly found the personal stories included to be quite interesting. 

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]