Just Finished "Art Therapy - The Person-Centred Way"... Initial Thoughts
"Art Therapy - The Person-Centred Way. Art and the Development of the Person" by Liesl Silverstone, 1997, Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.
Based heavily on the teachings and methods of Carl Rogers, the book is a kind of journal of the "person centred" journey undertaken by one of Liesl Silverstone's PCAT (Person-Centred Art Therapy) courses taken by a group of students over the period of one year. Essentially, each chapter is an outline and summary of each of the 30 sessions undertaken within the year, including Liesl Silverstone's plans for how the session will evolve; the purpose of the session; descriptions of the activities undertaken; observations and comments from both herself and any of the students who wish to contribute; plus a final section suggesting other situations where the material and processes undertaken during the session could be applied.
In keeping with Roger's use of the term "congruence" the content and processes described in the book are done so with integrity. It as if the book itself is honest in its nature - the book "is" what it talks about. At least, that is the general impression i got whilst reading it. And although I found the content and structure of the book somewhat repetitive at times, sticking with it one could definitely see a journey of self development, learning, skills development and "congruence" taking place within the students who saw the course to its end.
Although my enthusiasm in reading this text did tend to ebb and flow, particularly at those times when one session (or chapter) seemed almost a repeat of earlier ones, and it was difficult to maintain a reading momentum, the thing that kept me going with the book was that during the period that I was reading it, I was also doing the 5 day "Introduction to Basic Counselling Skills" at La Trobe University, and there were so many instances of synchronicity, resonance and parrallelism. In effect, I was experiencing for myself all the juxtapositions of my own inner struggles, developing awareness, congruence, skills development, and so on, whilst being able to read about them, and thereby better empathise with and understand them, in the "journals" of others who had, "once upon a time", undertaken a similar journey.
One thing that did bother me about the book, particularly in the second half, is the discussion and implementation of "Left Brain vs Right Brain" functionality in relation to drawing - a concept very much of its time and popularised in a range of books throughout the 80s and 90s, and in particular by the book "Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain" by Dr. Betty Edwards (1979), but which has in many ways been discredited or, at the very least, there has been a need for the basic premises on which it is founded and subsequent conclusions which have been drawn, to be redefined and altered in the light of more recent neuroscientific research, observations and evidence. However, keeping in mind that the book IS a book of its time, I was then able to get through this issue and not let it overshadow the overall beneifts of reading this book, especially in the context of undertaking studies in Humanistic and Person Centred Art Therapy myself.
"Art Therapy - The Person-Centred Way" is on the recommended reading list for Graduate Diploma in Arts Therapy, 2012, at La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia.