Handbook of Art Therapy

Handbook of Art Therapy

Handbook of Art Therapy

Handbook of Art Therapy

Synopsis

This essential handbook provides a complete and practical overview of art therapy: how it works, how it can be used, and with whom. Demonstrated are interventions for children, adolescents, and adults facing a variety of clinical problems and life challenges. Case-based chapters from leading practitioners illuminate major theoretical perspectives, including psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, developmental, and other approaches. Also examined is what current research in psychology and neuroscience can tell us about the scientific basis for art therapy. Discussing applications in individual psychotherapy, couple and family treatment, and group work, the Handbook includes over 100 samples of drawings and other artwork. The process of art therapy is illustrated in helping clients manage and cope with such problems as trauma, sexual abuse, developmental and learning disabilities, drug and alcohol misuse, serious mental illness, and medical illness. Appendices include descriptions of empirically supported approaches to art-based assessment, some of which are written by the instrument developers themselves.

Excerpt

Art is a powerful tool in communication. It is now widely acknowledged that art expression is a way to visually communicate thoughts and feelings that are too painful to put into words. Creative activity has also been used in psychotherapy and counseling not only because it serves another language but also because of its inherent ability to help people of all ages explore emotions and beliefs, reduce stress, resolve problems and conflicts, and enhance their sense of well-being.

The countless individuals I have been privileged to work with over the last 20 years have repeatedly demonstrated to me how art expression is effective as both a form of therapy and a method of nonverbal communication. On the jacket of this volume, there is an image by one of these individuals, Eduardo, a remarkable man whose struggle with mental illness was helped through art therapy along with psychiatric interventions. Now in his early 30s, he had been struggling with depression and mood swings since adolescence, and was looking for answers about his condition and seeking professional help. Even though he lived more than 2,000 miles away, Eduardo sent me a letter of introduction and a large envelope with some of his drawings and paintings. He had been carefully saving his artwork for many years, and it was easy to see just how much creative expression meant to him. He neatly titled each on a small piece of notepaper meticulously clipped to the upper-left-hand corner of each artwork.

For the next month, we communicated through e-mails and letters, and I learned more about Eduardo’s mental illness, his life history, and lack of success in obtaining effective treatment. On good days, he wrote articulately, describing his frustration about his depression and “his problems with thinking.” On other occasions his letters were disorganized and illogical, reminiscent of a thought disorder, and seemed to be a result of manic feelings and impulses. To ensure that Eduardo received appropriate treatment, and since sufficient medical care was not available where Eduardo lived, I made arrangements for his treatment at a local neuropsychiatric hospital. Fortunately, Eduardo was willing to relocate and was able to enter one of the hospital’s inpatient programs to receive an evaluation.

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