Art Therapy and Political Violence: With Art, without Illusion

Art Therapy and Political Violence: With Art, without Illusion

Art Therapy and Political Violence: With Art, without Illusion

Art Therapy and Political Violence: With Art, without Illusion


The impact of political violence, war, civil war and acts of terrorism on the individuals involved can be extensive. Art therapy can provide an effective means of expressing the resulting experiences of fear, loss, separation, instability and disruption. Art Therapy and Political Violence brings together contributions from all over the world and from diverse theoretical backgrounds. With contributions from Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Israel and South Africa, the book includes numerous clinical examples to vividly illustrate the main issues affecting art therapy. The practical issues involved are also discussed, including subjects such as the importance of working with both the internal and external worlds of the individual and sensitivity to cultural issues. Art therapists, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals, particularly those working in the context of political violence or in countries of refuge, will find the experiences recounted in Art Therapy and Political Violence thought-provoking and will welcome the wealth of practical information provided.


Shaun McNiff

It is a great honour to affirm the philosophy and vision of art therapy presented in Art Therapy and Political Violence. I have always believed that the healing qualities of art relate to the total spectrum of the soul's experience and that art therapy's relevance is dependent upon its willingness to meet new challenges and go to places where troubles in the human condition exist.

Through their courageous efforts from 1994 to 2002 to create 'portable' art therapy studios in communities afflicted by political violence throughout the former Yugoslavia, Debra Kalmanowitz and Bobby Lloyd (1997) take art therapy to new levels of innovation and service to others, and they demonstrate how if there is a need somewhere in a distant place, art therapy can become whatever we imagine it to be. In this book they expand their community by collaborating with colleagues who offer similar art and healing programmes in other regions of the world.

This unique book generates an energy and vision that will transform art therapy. Each chapter clearly conveys how art therapy is part of a larger process of art and healing that is cultivated by professionally trained art therapists, as so clearly modelled by Kalmanowitz and Lloyd. We use our knowledge and commitment to lead and to make the process of healing through art as accessible as possible. Authors such as Truus Wertheim-Cahen assure us that art therapy will never again be perceived as a circumscribed clinical practice far removed from the expressions and needs of ordinary people dealing with hardships and crises in their daily lives.

Art therapy has been significantly informed by depth psychology and the practice of psychotherapy and the creative relationships with these disciplines will continue into the future. However, I have always approached the definition of art therapy like a conceptual artist who strives for the broadest interplay between art and life (McNiff 1981, 1992, 2004). The suffering of people living in crisis and their needs for expression and support conclusively show that a socially responsive vision of art therapy cannot be enclosed with a tidy container of methods developed within mental health clinics for people experiencing various emotional disorders. Art Therapy and Political Violence can also bring inspiration to the world of art, where there is a need

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