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Edited by Cheryl McLean, Publisher of The International Journal of The Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, associate editor, Dr. Robert Kelly, Associate Professor, Fine Art, University of Calgary, 2010

Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, is a unique collection of research that features participative, communal, active and experimental methods. The book is conceptualized in 5 parts and provides firsthand accounts from leading researchers, educators, physicians, artists and others who use the creative arts in their practices.

 

Part 1: Creative Arts in Research and Action for Community Change tells stories and provides examples of how the arts may be used in social research to raise awareness, move the public to act, and provide help to marginalized populations. Information about various social issues is combined with stories of arts research projects, demonstrating the power of the arts to reach people and bring about change.

The text inspires readers with its narratives of people coming together, helping one another and finding meaning through the creative arts. It is clear from the research that arts-informed research methods are inclusive to diverse populations.

 

Part 2: Performance in Health, Embodied Understandings explores how performing is healing, educational, inspiring, meaningful, and a growth opportunity for those involved as well as the audience.

Pada provides a moving personal story about coping and redefining herself after her family is killed and how she found new meaning in her life through dance. In the chapter “Mining the Depths” a group of people with experience of some aspect of homelessness came together to do a theatre production and in the process learned: how to listen to themselves and others, teamwork, empathy, support, self-expression, risk taking, and how to search for meaning. This chapter illustrates how skills used in performance are important for other areas of life, and how meaningful this form of expression and communication can be for both the performers and the audience.

 

Part 3: Creative Arts in Action and Practice, Special Populations, Self Expression, Identity, Community tells stories of how the arts have made a difference in the lives of those with disabilities. For example, DiGiacomo’s chapter highlights music therapy interventions found to be effective in the treatment of schizophrenia and the importance of client created rap songs in providing an outlet for feelings, safe forms of expression, opportunities for self-reflection and sense of accomplishment while creating something personally meaningful that conveys thoughts and emotions to others.

 

Part 4: Narrative and Story elucidates the benefits of sharing personal stories as a way to express oneself, find meaning, understand, connect, care for others, listen, offer support, and value everyone's voice. This section emphasizes that emotions are important and should be expressed, not ignored or subdued. For example, MacRae shares her story of learning compassion in her profession, and how this is an important part of working with patients. 

 

Part 5: Interdisciplinary Art Practice for Personal and Community Healing tells the story of those who have experienced displacement from their homes, and describes how people came together to share cultural songs, stories and personal thoughts about home and loss. This chapter emphasizes the power of singing and storytelling to influence psychological wellbeing and social reconstruction and it ties into the overall themes of the book: the importance of empathy, understanding differences, giving everyone a voice, and the power of the arts to bring people together, enhance relationships, move people, help people, provide meaning and contribute to healing.

 

The arts reach people in a way that nothing else can, and is important to be used in a variety of disciplines in order for holistic healing to occur. This book effectively conveys this message through an intriguing combination of stories, personal accounts, poetry, pictures, information, and suggestions for further implementation of the arts to a variety of disciplines in creative ways.

Available at the IJCAIP website http://www.ijcaip.com

Reviewed by: Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes began her career as a music therapist, performer, and vocal teacher. Her extensive clinical experience involves working with a variety of clients including: geriatrics, adult psychiatry, palliative care, children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities and developmental delays, cognitive impairment, Parkinson's, stroke, etcetera. Dr. Clements-Cortes works at Baycrest Centre in Toronto and teaches Music therapy at the University of Windsor School of Music. Dr. Clements-Cortes' doctoral thesis has been published by VDM Verlag Publishing (2009). Episodes of Relationship Completion Through Song: Case Studies of Music Therapy Research in Palliative Care. Her scholarly writings have also been published in the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, Canadian Music Educator's Journal, and the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.