Therapists Creating a Cultural Tapestry: Using the Creative Therapies Across Cultures offers an expanded perspective of cultural competence for music therapists to consider, inclusive of all creative arts therapies. This approach makes sense to us. Who among us does not at times rely upon story, movement, or art in sessions? In addition, in our modern and swiftly globalizing world, therapists of every sort increasingly treat clients and train students from cultures different from their own. For example, music therapists in Germany today need to be able to work with Middle Eastern refugees who are pouring into the country by the hundreds of thousands. Language and culture barriers need not devitalize therapeutic progress but can enhance relationships: difference breeds curiosity, which can be mindfully used to therapeutic benefit. This book addresses the pressing need for cultural competency in the training, practice, supervision, and continuing education of creative arts therapists. How and why we integrate a multicultural perspective into clinical practice has not been fully addressed in our literature, and with this work Brooke and Myers bring forth indigenous uses of creative arts in therapeutic settings and highlight insights unique to creative arts therapists who are working cross-culturally. Though the editors use a rather traditional approach by emphasizing the need for Western therapists to adopt cultural practices, a tactic fraught with the potential for appropriation, the knowledge given is compelling and does not devolve into artificial inclusions. For example, music therapist Krystal Demaine, in her chapter “Musical Roots for Healing: The Role of Music in Traditional Chinese Medicine,” avoids preaching about how Chinese cultural ethics and idioms can be integrated into a Western practice and instead explores what role music takes in traditional Chinese culture. This affords the reader the opportunity to understand music in this particular part of the world without being given a prescription for adoption/appropriation. Taking the time to understand the roots of cultural applications of music as a healing and therapeutic tool in an indigenous context, Demaine then offers suggestions for sensitive and relevant uses in Western music therapy methods. Her work serves as an illustration of the many practical purposes this book holds for creative arts therapists. Of the 18 chapters in the book, 10 analyze how and why cultural diversity is woven into creative arts therapies. The remaining eight are informative and well-written accounts of creative therapies in a specific cultural setting. True to the book’s title, the chapters are not organized into a sequenced format, but rather are presented in a way that emphasizes the differing therapies and approaches: a picture emerges of the overall mosaic that the book purports to create. One chapter explores intercultural exchanges for all creative arts therapists to consider in their client relationships. Another chapter gives suggestions for conducting multiculturally sensitive supervision. Three chapters deal with play therapy, while one focuses on music therapy, five on art therapy, two on drama therapy/psychodrama, and four on dance therapy. Creative arts therapy practices with clients from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds are described by diverse authors; the variety of voices in this text makes reading it a constantly shifting experience. It is an imaginal trip around the world! Issues particular to certain cultures and ethnic groups are overviewed as they pertain to creative arts therapeutic work and discussed with sensitivity and without overgeneralization or cultural imposition. Challenges and successes with clients that are Chinese, Appalachian American, African American, Dutch, Arab, Jewish, Canadian, Australian, South African, Taiwanese, Irish, and Japanese are referred to, and solid rationale and support for creative arts therapies in multicultural work are presented throughout, making this a good resource for students and mature clinicians alike. Important conceptual points are made from the macro to the micro level, including cross-cultural competency in general, broad definitions of differing groups’ cultural characteristics with a value placed on how individually complex and nuanced these features can be, and individualized approaches that may have particular merit when working cross-culturally. Some of the trademarked approaches include SoulCollage®, the Center Post Trauma & Resiliency Framework, the Therapeutic Spiral Model©, and Leap Frog. Authors also share therapeutic uses of indigenous art-making practices, including the five-tone Chinese scale in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Mongolian shamanic circle dance, and traditional Indian Panchatantra fables used in adapted psychodrama/therapeutic story reenactment, to name but a few. The clients presented are seeking treatment to address issues as diverse as they are: immigration/refugee status, post-traumatic healing, behavioral and mental health, sexual and physical abuse, learning disabilities, and professional development. The qualitative and narrative qualities of the text help the stories come alive from both the therapist and client perspectives. In many cases, authors use clients’ own words and present images of original creations. Numerous case examples throughout provide vignettes that deepen readers’ understanding in a way that is congruent with the value in cross-cultural work of seeing clients as unique individuals. Various authors caution readers, albeit in different terms and via varying mediums, to avoid the easy assumption that creative arts offer a common ground for understanding others. Beyond the ubiquity of the arts in all cultures, we also need to know the roots of stories, be aware of cultural beliefs about healing and therapy, and be vigilant to not impose Western practices on clients’ endeavors. This perspective is continually addressed in a way that layers our understanding. An emphasis on exploring one’s own cultural heritage and biases (known and unknown) is explored throughout the text, and is embodied through the transparency and self-disclosing awareness of each chapter author. The reviewers found in the book information that enriches their own practice and teaching. One concern we have is that other readers might not know exactly what to do with all that is presented, and so we suggest the editors, for future editions, consider adding a study guide after each chapter. Asking questions that help focus readers’ comprehension and identify possible clinical application(s) could add even more relevance. Doing so would also help concretize Myers’s purpose in chapter 1 that “[Creative arts therapists] develop internal sensitivity through intentional introspection, focusing on our interactions with others, and by becoming aware of [our] own biases and values” (p. 4). Along this line of thought, having a culminating chapter or statement by the editors at the end of the book would help readers integrate the contents into practice. There are other issues to consider as well. For example, Myers’s opening chapter serves to introduce the topic, yet we miss having some kind of preface that offers insight into why both editors chose the topic and how their understanding of the topic evolved through working on the book. Another concern of the reviewers is that there is limited referencing outside each chapter’s identified discipline. Other than holding to one chapter that took an overview of the various creative arts therapies, it could be beneficial to have dedicated space to identifying the connecting elements of multiculturalism in all areas. In a final analysis, the reviewers gained many insights reading this book, from realizing how a creative arts therapist can mediate the cultural clash children of immigrants are caught in, to facilitating understanding of indigenous beliefs, and identifying and incorporating specific imagery, sounds, rhythms, and movements that are unique to a client’s heritage. Editors Brooke and Myers have given us a well-crafted resource that can help music therapists move away from culturally bound practices. Therapists Creating a Cultural Tapestry: Using the Creative Therapies Across Cultures successfully strikes a delicate balance between honoring expertise and the potential for cross-cultural work without over-implicating or over-appropriating indigenous forms of creative expression. We recommend the book as a resource to practitioners, educators, students, and supervisors. © the American Music Therapy Association 2016. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music Therapy Perspectives – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 5, 2016
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