Shaun McNiff is internationally recognized as a founder and leading figure in the arts and healing field. A university professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he is past president of the American Art Therapy Association and the author of ten other books including Art as Medicine and Creating with Others. In this important collection of essays, both scholastic and less formal, McNiff brings together the key ideas that have animated his pioneering work in expressive arts therapy for over 30 years. The themes suggested in the chapter headings reveal the multidimensional nature of his work: art is soul's medicine, opening to images and media, total expression, connections to shamanism, reflections on the source, using new media to expand creative expression, and art healing is for everyone.
"I have consistently discovered that the core process of healing through art involves the cultivation and release of the creative spirit," writes McNiff. "If we can liberate the creative process in our lives, it will always find the way to whatever needs attention and transformation. The challenge, then, is first to free our creativity and then to sustain it as a disciplined process." Some of the most interesting essays probe this point. McNiff explores the creative space, the art therapist as artist, images as angels, artistic auras and their medicines, the shaman within, and art therapy as a spectrum of partnerships.
We have long been intrigued by McNiff's process of conversing with paintings and his contention that images generate stories, imaginal dialogue, and other forms of artistic expression. In this process, an unsettling image can also be an ally of the soul. There is plenty of substantive material in this multi-splendored tribute to the imagination as a healing instrument.