Art-Based Group Therapy:Theory and Practice
Book review by HoiLam Tang, MS, ATR
Classic Group therapy textbooks by Corey and Corey and Yalom are probably the must read materials for every graduate group therapy course across the US. With their solid teachings, most art therapy students were able to graduate with good understanding and techniques in holding psychotherapy group. Yet “art” has been missing in the classic group therapy training textbooks. Thanks to Dr Bruce Moon’s Art-Based Group Therapy: Theory and Practice. I hope more art therapy students, art therapist, and educators will benefit from his writings and enrich their art therapy group experiences for themselves and their group participants.
With solid years of art therapy group experiences, Dr Moon explored 13 therapeutic Essentials that are important qualities of art-based group therapy throughout his book. For instance, to establish a safe space and a group ritual; once the participants feel safe in the group and feel safe to make art along with others, it empowers the participants to use art to express pain and difficult issues. More, let art be the focus in the group and use art to communicate and witness each other’s expression. And as art therapy group requires making art along with others, it reduces isolation and establish community, support, and promote wellness. There can be more benefits in art-based group therapy. Over and over again, Dr Moon emphasized that the group leaders should also have an active engagement in art making and relationship with their own art. As group leaders invited the participants to engage in art making, group leaders shouldn’t forget about their own art practice. Even thought this book doesn’t have a recipe formula or step by step to do list on how to lead an art-based group therapy, with vivid case vignettes illustration and clear explanation of each essentials and theory. Readers will surely learn a lot in how to be effective art-based group therapy leaders.