Laying the philosophical foundations of expressive arts therapy, this book highlights the role and importance of poiesis, the art of 'making' as a response to the world, in the expressive arts therapies as well as our own lives.
The concept of poiesis was originally developed and brought into the field by Stephen K. Levine. It is a perspective that restores the primacy of the arts for the arts therapies instead of reducing art-making and art-objects to psychological data. Bringing together different schools of thought in unexpected ways, this book shows how the principles underlying expressive arts therapy have relevance to ethics, politics and social change. It includes chapters on Taoism, improvisation in the arts, and the importance of creativity for understanding human existence.
With personal narratives and poetry to help create natural points for the reader to stop and reflect, Philosophy of Expressive Arts Therapy is the perfect guide for those wanting to understand the role of the arts and art-making in life and in therapeutic change.
From my close perspective on Stephen K. Levine's work over the past four decades, I applaud Philosophy of Expressive Arts Therapy and its 'integration' of a lifework of poiesis (making). This volume includes seminal essays on trauma, imagination, and beauty together with new and timely writings on identity and relationships with China and East Asia.
I have always admired Levine's unique and dogged affirmation of the productive role of breaking to make anew, described here as 'unintegration', and its vital place in creative expression. I am struck by how he so clearly connects this alchemical process to our common commitment to the classical Chinese emphasis of creating ourselves through artistic expression.
Among the book's many achievements is the insistence that the creation of a person, a community, and a world is ongoing, never finished and always transcending fixed identities; it is a process where beauty is the "presence" of engagements with each other and the life we make, now.
— Shaun McNiff, author of Imagination in Action, Art Heals, Art as Medicine, Professor at Lesley University
In his most stunning new work as a philosopher, therapist, teacher and artist, Levine offers us an invitation into the heart and soul of expressive arts, weaving a narrative both profoundly compelling and generously accessible. With his deeply lived personal experiences, he offers himself up as if a case study on the work itself. I find in this masterful work the beauty of an embodied thinker, a vulnerable risk taker, a humble seeker who, with persevering commitment, asks us to join him in looking to the arts to bring worlds and people together.
— Daria Halprin, Tamalpa Institute, Author of The Expressive Body in Life, Art & Therapy
About the Author:
Stephen K. Levine is Professor Emeritus of Social Science at York University in Toronto, Canada, Vice-Provost and Dean of the Doctoral Program in Expressive Arts Therapy: Education, Consulting and Social Change at the European Graduate School in Switzerland, and Co-Director of The CREATE Institute.
Catherine Hyland Moon, MA, ATR is an art therapist with over twenty years' experience in the mental health field. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her recent artwork has focused on performance art and the incorporation of found objects in painting.