Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics

Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics

Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics

Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics

Excerpt

This volume attempts to provide a presentation of the fundamental principles and practice of expressive arts therapy. For a long time, an understanding of these principles and practice has been based on psychological frameworks extrinsic to the arts. The psychotherapeutic use of the arts is then carried out within these pre-existing frameworks. As a result, the arts are not valued for their own intrinsic capacities but are seen primarily as instruments to enhance existing psychotherapeutic practices. Thus in psychoanalysis, for example, the art work is often taken as a symbolic representation of an unconscious mental process. The meaning of the work is then interpreted within the particular psychoanalytic tradition to which the analyst belongs. The work itself and the process of art-making that produced it are not understood in their own terms but rather within an already established point of view based on a psychology, however valuable in itself, for which art is a secondary phenomenon.

The authors of this volume, on the contrary, put aesthetics squarely in the center of their understanding of the therapeutic use of the arts. Although our backgrounds are diverse and our perspectives have been shaped in different ways, we all believe that the field of expressive arts therapy needs a foundation based on the practice of the arts. Therefore, in our subtitle, we speak of a “therapeutic aesthetics” as the horizon within which the principles and practice of our field can be understood.

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