Grief and the Expressive Arts : Practices for Creating Meaning book cover
1st Edition

Grief and the Expressive Arts
Practices for Creating Meaning

ISBN 9780415857192
Published January 16, 2014 by Routledge
336 Pages - 63 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The use of the arts in psychotherapy is a burgeoning area of interest, particularly in the field of bereavement, where it is a staple intervention in hospice programs, children’s grief camps, specialized programs for trauma or combat exposure, work with bereaved parents, widowed elders or suicide survivors, and in many other contexts. But how should clinicians differentiate between the many different approaches and techniques, and what criteria should they use to decide which technique to use—and when? Grief and the Expressive Arts provides the answers using a crisp, coherent structure that creates a conceptual and relational scaffold for an artistically inclined grief therapy. Each of the book’s brief chapters is accessible and clearly focused, conveying concrete methods and anchoring them in brief case studies, across a range of approaches featuring music, creative writing, visual arts, dance and movement, theatre and performance and multi-modal practices. Any clinician—expressive arts therapist, grief counselor, or something in between—looking for a professionally oriented but scientifically informed book for guidance and inspiration need look no further than Grief and the Expressive Arts.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables  Foreword Sandra L. Bertman  Preface Robert A. Neimeyer and Barbara E. Thompson  List of Contributors  Part I: Building the Frame  1. Meaning Making and the Art of Grief Therapy Robert A. Neimeyer and Barbara E. Thompson  2. Poiesis, Praise And Lament: Celebration, Mourning And The "Architecture" Of Expressive Arts Therapy Stephen K. Levine  3. Art Therapy for Processing Children’s Traumatic Grief and Loss Eliana Gil  4. When the Gods Are Silent: The Spirit of Resilience and the Soul of Healing Michael Conforti  5. Expressive Therapies for Bereavement: The State of the Arts Jordan Potash and Rainbow Ho  Part II: Doing the Work  Music  6. Singing Goodbye Diane Austin  7. Hear Here – Invite Music of Memories Joy Berger  8. The Emerging Life Song Thelma Duffey  9. Playing Out Feelings on Instruments Katrina Skewes Mcferran  10. Lyric Analysis Natalie Wlodarczyk  11. Acrostic in Therapeutic Songwriting Bob Heath  12. Group Songwriting Using Templates Jane Lings  13. Singing Our Loss Dorit Amir  Creative Writing  14. Virtual Dream Stories Robert A. Neimeyer and Polly Young-Eisendrath  15. "Interplaying" Gail Noppe-Brandon  16. Graphopoetic Process Shanee Stepakoff  17. The Furniture Game Jane Moss  18. The "I Am. . ." Poem Sally S. Atkins  19. Acrostic Eulogy Harold Ivan Smith  20. Chapters of Our Lives Robert A. Neimeyer  Theater & Performance  21. Playback Theatre Virginia Reed Murphy and Robert A. Neimeyer  2. Enacting the Emotion ane Milman  3. Dancing In the Shadows oralee M. Scott-Conforti  24. The Practical Muse in Social Drama David Baecker  25. The Six-Part Storymaking Method Breffni Mcguinness  Dance & Movement  26. Kinaesthetic Imagining Ilene Serlin  27. The Dance of Transition Kris Eric Larsen  28. Body Connections Alexandria Callahan  29. Embodied Compassion and Empathy Kris Eric Larsen and Jessica Young  30. Moving the Body From Within Toni Smith  Visual Arts  31. Narrative Scrapbooking Elizabeth Maier Chernow  32. Sketching Out the Story Barbara E. Thompson  33. Drawing on Metaphor Leigh Davies  34. "Moments Held" Documentary Todd Hochberg  35. Simple Drawing Gerry R. Cox and Bernard J. Vanden Berk  Multi-Modal Approaches  36. Conversing With the Canvas Barbara E. Thompson  37. Spirit Sticks Sally S. Atkins  38. "Living Memoires" Videography Andy Hau Yan Ho and Cecilia Lai Wan Chan  39. Grieffiti Lysa Toye  40. Dancing Among the Stones Denis Whalen  41. Letting the Worry Go Linda Goldman  Part III: Art and Reflexivity  42. Collage: Integrating the Torn Pieces Sharon Strouse  43. Photographic Metaphors Irene Renzenbrink  44. Memorial Tattooing - Making Grief Visible Malinda Ann Hill  45. Enso: The Painted Journal Lisa Jennings  46. Moving the Immovable Ione Beauchamp  Part IV: Programs  47. Restoring the Heartbeat of Hope Following Suicide Diana C. Sands  48. Integrative Songwriting Thomas A. Dalton and Robert E. Krout  49. Pongo Creative Writing for At-Risk Youth Richard Gold  50. Soldier’s Heart: Using the Arts to Heal From War Kate Dahlstedt  51. Moving Through Grief One Note at a Time: Music Therapy for Bereaved Children Russell Hilliard  52. The Grief Healing Garden Yu-Chan Li and Cypress Chang  53. Expressive Arts Joining Hearts at Camp Good Grief Angela Hamblen  Part V: Research  54. A Civilian’s Artistic Dialogue With Combat Veterans  Iishana Artra  55. The Art of Research Carol Wogrin, Val Maasdorp and Debra Machando  56. The Expressive Arts in Grief Therapy: An Empirical Perspective Carlos Torres, Robert. A. Neimeyer, and Maryl L. Neff  57. Persephone in the Underworld: Closing Reflections Barbara E. Thompson and Robert A. Neimeyer  Epilogue: Ghosts Move, A Poem by Jessica Moore

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Barbara E. Thompson, OTD, LCSW, OTR/L, is a professor in the department of occupational therapy at the Sage Colleges, where she also maintains a private psychotherapy practice. She founded and directed the St. Peter’s Hospice Day Program and the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Regional Center at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY, before joining academia full time and obtaining a certificate in advanced graduate studies in the expressive arts through the European Graduate School. 

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. He has published more than two dozen books, is the editor of Death Studies, and has served as president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling as well as chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. A published poet, Neimeyer’s most recent book of verse is titled The Art of Longing.


"Since time immemorial humans have brought grief into art, doubtless reflecting a need to bring art into grief. Love and loss are at the center of human existence. Anyone who loves deeply will ultimately face the pain of loss. As CS Lewis once said, "It [bereavement] is not a truncation of [a relationship] … but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure. " Bereaved people need to learn to live with loss and its partner, grief. Artists themselves, as well as accomplished bereavement experts, Thompson and Neimeyer have brought together a collection of colleagues who describe a fascinating assortment of imaginative artistic strategies to inspire and vitalize the transformation and integration of grief. This volume will be an invaluable addition to the toolbox of those who work with bereaved people to help them embrace grief, weaving it into their minds, their lives and their hopes."

—M. Katherine Shear, MD, Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Social Work


"Thompson and Neimeyer, brilliant therapists and editors—the contemporary shamans of this volume—have furnished us not only with theory and how-to-do methods for using the creative and expressive therapies; they have reminded us that we, too, are wounded healers."

—Sandra L. Bertman, PhD, author of Facing Death: Images, Insights, and Interventions


"From sophisticated theory to empirical studies to clinical vignettes and elaborated techniques, this volume has it all. Grief and the Expressive Arts covers a range of creative practices and artistic modalities that are as rich and variegated as the very artistic foundations that underlie them. For anyone seeking to bring the expressive arts into their clinical practice, this volume will become the standard for the field—the must-have book for your professional collection."

—John R. Jordan, PhD, coeditor of Grief After Suicide


"Warning to readers: You will not "finish" this volume. Drawn by its humanity in recognizing the ‘person’ of the service provider, the pain and complexity of grief, and the humanistic perspective that art, therapy, and loss are unfinished, you will return to reflect and examine this rich resource shaped by contributors from across disciplines, theories, and practice/educational settings. Truly the book is a great companion for your personal and professional journey, which always involves loss and the potential for growth through meaning making."

—Nicholas F. Mazza, PhD, dean and Patricia V. Vance Professor of Social Work at the Florida State University and editor of the Journal of Poetry Therapy


"Grief and the Expressive Arts is a comprehensive volume that offers pragmatic and creative suggestions to assist individuals in recovery from loss. Readers will enjoy user-friendly chapters on a variety of methods that can be applied to work with people of all ages. In particular, the authors encourage all helping professionals to use experiential interventions to assist clients in moving from survivors to thrivers. This book is a valuable resource for graduate students and professionals in the field of counseling, social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, creative arts and play therapy, thanatology, and family medicine."

—Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute and adjunct professor at Lesley University