Catherine Hyland Moon

Book review by HoiLam Tang

For those who are interested in Art therapy,  it is known that  art therapy can be seen in two schools, art psychotherapy and art-as-therapy. The former often collaborates with different psychological theoretical approaches such as psychodynamic, Jungian, Gestalt while the later see art is therapy and by making art, therapy happens. And in this book, Ms Moon is focusing on the Art as Therapy and how art therapists can serve their clients in an art-based approach.

The artist identity of an art therapist might often be overshadowed by the identity of a psychotherapist or a counselor. In order to fit into the psychological professional system, art therapist continue to comply with the professional demeanor and use psychological and pathological terminologies to communicate with colleagues and clients. Yet art therapists are artists that are skilled to visually observe the aesthetic beauty of the natures, people, and environment. Ms Moon pointed out that art therapists shouldn’t belittle our artist identity.  Not only we can observe our clients in a psychological approach, we should be also reminded to observe our clients in a poetic artistic approach.  When we are observing our clients through our artists’ lens, we can appreciate our clients’ beauty and understand their suffering in a more humane way.

In this book, Ms Moon also shared similar difficulty where many art therapists in Hong Kong are facing, forming an “ideal” studio space. In Hong Kong, finding a studio space is often a big issues and the vision of “ideal” studio space might be only a dream for many. Ms Moon pointed that no matter where we are working, it might be on a dinning table in a kitchen, a coffee table in the living area, or by the bedside in a patient’s ward. “Ideal” art studio is formed when our client can be creative. So it might be just a chair, a stool, even in bed, art therapists who can hold the space and invite our clients to be creative then therapy is happening.

Lastly, Ms Moon encourages art therapists who practice studio art therapy approaches should regularly making art. Ms Moon gave us many tips on how to cooperate art making in our daily schedule such as taking an art class or scheduling a studio time with art buddies. The art-based art therapy approach is unique for art therapists. And in order to embrace the uniqueness, art therapists should actively engaging in art making so we can invite and share with our clients what art has done good for us. For those who are interested in art-based art therapy approach, Ms Moon’s Studio Art Therapy: cultivating the artist identity in art therapist will be a good resource.

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