Art Heals by Shaun McNiff highlights two important stages in the history of Art Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy. The first is that our work involves us, the therapists. We are not strictly observers documenting and analyzing another’s process, but rather therapeutic participants. Secondly, Art Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy is a combination the new and old of cultures and people’s experiences through artistic traditions.
People from various cultures can relate to the enduring shaman, a role that was revered in the past and still is today. Similarly, people from various cultures can relate to the world of the creative arts. One of the ways a shaman works is to go into the unknown in order to balance out the rhythm of life; likewise creativity embraces an inward journey to achieve the same. When I gather discarded materials to create a mosaic or the shaman gathers fragments of one’s soul, we are both seeking to reinstate health through the process. “Shamanism is more likely to come to art and healing through image than through the therapist’s desire to be a shaman” (198). Shamanism can be a safe space for the creative arts to be researched in a respectful and complimentary atmosphere. “The generative powers of a creative expression need to be fed with a corresponding consciousness which appreciates and keeps their mysteries (28).”