Introduction to Art Therapy—Faith in the Product (Third Edition)

Introduction to Art Therapy—Faith in the Product (Third Edition)

Author: Bruce L. Moon

Book review by Grace Chan

It is a pleasure to review Bruce Moon’s book. In this book, Moon thoroughly shares his understanding of the history and development of art therapy in the West over the last 70 years; he also very genuinely expresses what he thinks are the most concerning matters in the practice of art therapy. 

It is enlightening to me that, speaking from the perspective of a seasoned artist and art therapy pioneer, Moon points out early on in the first chapter, the correlation between art making and therapy. In fact, they are both “Act of Love”, which is central to foster any therapeutic effects in the client’s growth. It is indeed a very affirming statement for anyone who seeks and enters the art therapy field driven by a passion for art, and great love for people in need particularly those going through life struggles and conflicts. 

Moon further points out the essence of art therapy, which the art therapy work by nature would certainly involve conflict and challenges. He demonstrates by case examples the phrases of the art therapy treatment process, marked with guideposts of therapeutic work involving intense emotions. It is the art therapist’s role to engage clients in creative response concerning the anxiety and stress of human existence. The art therapist is also the role model for the client of how to be active in art making. The art therapy process calls upon the inherent creative potential of client, enabling a sense of openness and acceptance for one to freely express the emotional turmoil and conflicts through art. 

Art therapists may at times distance themselves from art and avoid unscientific language in order to seek clinical justification, but Moon strives to bring art back to the core of the practice by pursuing an arts-based approach. He indicates that, it is important to show enough faith in the art making process and the product, as it is the heart and soul of professional art therapy work. It is also essential for keeping art as the anchor of therapy sessions, and nourishing the artist identity of art therapist.

All in all, “Introduction to Art Therapy---Faith in the Product” shows depths in reviewing the approaches to art therapy and presenting the fundamental elements contributing to a successful therapeutic alliance in the sessions. As Moon beautifully describes the work of art therapist: “Creating art is a declaration of faith and hope. If there is no hope, there will be no therapeutic process. If we have faith and trust in the power of the creative process, our faith will be infectious”. (Moon, 2017) Art therapists of any learning stage would surely find Moon’s writing reaffirming and inspiring. 

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