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Wolf, R.I. (1983). Expressive Therapy: A Creative Arts Approach to Depth-Oriented Treatment. Arthur Robbins with Contributors. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1980, 314 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 70:277-278.

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(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(2):277-278


Expressive Therapy: A Creative Arts Approach to Depth-Oriented Treatment. Arthur Robbins with Contributors. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1980, 314 pp.

Review by:
Robert I. Wolf

Expressive Therapy is an ambitious and important work. The author attempts to synthesize a theory of expressive therapy which draws from psychoanalytic theory, ego psychology, object relations theory, and brain research. He applies his findings to primary and secondary process thinking and to aspects of creativity and play facilitated through art, music, movement, and dance. This challenging task is undertaken with enthusiasm and sensitivity to the complex nature of these diverse areas. The work is rich and intense, at times perhaps overwhelming, but it is well written and often quite poetic in style. It is engaging, provocative, and at times controversial.

Expressive therapy utilizes a model of mother/child interaction at the symbiotic and separation/individuation level of development as a paradigm for understanding the treatment process. There is an emphasis upon the nonverbal quality of interaction between the therapist and patient, and upon the mother/therapist's ability to respond empathically to the patient and to foster a creative, playful environment. This “potential space” (as noted by Winnicott) is viewed as a reparative structure within which the patient may affirm his sense of self. Differing from another psychoanalytic “self”psychology, which focuses on the restoration or establishment of the “self,” expressive therapy expands its goal to include the integration of primary and secondary process experience. To support this approach

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