the friend online
26 June 2009

Art therapy and anger
Art Therapy and Anger edited by Marian Liebmann. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 978 1 84310 425 4. £19.99.

I found this a most interesting and absorbing book. It explains how art therapy can be used to help people, children and adults, to express anger which they do not recognise or acknowledge and to understand and learn to deal with the pain that underlies it. The subject is brought to life through accounts of case studies presented by different therapists.

Follow the progress of Karl, a twelve-year-old, who was restrained on a daily basis for hitting both peers and teachers, through eighteen months of therapy, to a point where he became ‘no longer a victim of his anger but part of a thinking process’, where he was seen as a unique individual with the need to overcome ‘the loss of hope and good experiences, a family or group to belong to’. The account is illustrated by the artwork. Karl’s first piece was to create a paper island with a solitary pipe cleaner figure. The therapist placed another figure on the island – communicating to Karl that he was not alone and isolated. They could work together. His image making progressed from creating volcanos and a violent King Kong to eventually making an empty basket from Plasticine.

Or learn about the use of art therapy in helping someone who has recovered from brain injury – at the time when staff and family are ready to celebrate the patient is often ‘taking the journey their relatives took while they were unconscious – shock, disbelief and grief.’ Or new mothers, who have experienced a traumatic birth, unwelcome interventions, meddling relatives or guilt at leaving their infants in the care of others, are frequently left with unresolved anger and little support.
I could go on, but read the book for yourself. It certainly helped me to understand what underlies the angry, difficult behaviour of many people.

As a facilitator of many years experience with the Alternatives to Violence Project I have met this many times, but it is good to have acquired this deeper understanding. The book is well designed, clearly set out and well supported by reference to the research and literature with a clear introduction by Marian Liebmann, and in addition to the cases referred to above, studies groups of offenders, people who self harm or suffer disabilities and war veterans.

Hilary Brazell


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Art therapy and anger
Hilary Brazell
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Fox the mystic preacher
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Q-eye: a Quaker look at the world


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