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Presence and Process in Expressive Arts Work – The new Book by Sally Atkins and Herbert Eberha

Updated: May 16, 2021


Presence and Process


Foreword by Paolo J. Knill

Do you wonder why we need another book on presencing presence and processing process?  If you wonder, then read this surprisingly unique book, serving you timeless topics, freshly prepared “food” for professionals who are sick and tired of over-processed literature about expressive arts. This book offers nourishing food, timeless topics freshly prepared with zesty and poignant thinking.


At the edge of wonder

Embracing surprise

With courage to meet the other

Begin the adventure of the unknown.


As the poetry of these titles shows, the authors use a language that is attractive, captivating, accurate, precise and adequate to art making. The centrality of the arts within the field of expressive arts opens the discourse to break the ground for the two major bases for any professional work, presence and process. Many authors have written about the concept of presence, and many others also have written about the concept of process. However, to connect each of these basic concepts to the other and to relate them to working with the arts is the unique strength and beauty of this inquiry. Following an introductory chapter in which the authors present the rationale for this work and emphasize their belief in the uniqueness of persons, the authors in Chapter II celebrate the human capacity to respond to beauty and consider that this capacity for responding carries with it an ethical call, an aesthetic responsibility to care for the beauty of life. They show how art itself is central to the practice of expressive arts and a fundamental aspect of what it means to be a human being. In Chapters III and IV the authors address the main concepts, presence and process. The authors point out that a meaningful encounter is one marked by presence, a way of being that includes processes of multileveled awareness, multifold openness and appreciative curiosity. Such an encounter helps to provide courage to venture into new and unknown regions. The authors show how enrichment of language produces expanded perspectives on problematic situations and opens possibilities for the process of change. Within the ground of a facilitative relationship, this enrichment of language is an important help toward trusting the unfolding process. The appendices offer examples of concrete applications of the basic concepts. These applications relate to contemporary developments in expressive arts work, including decentering with the arts. What has been lacking in the field of expressive arts is a language that allows practitioners to talk about essentials with other professionals. This book offers such a language and with it, a phenomenological standpoint from which to re-envision a psychology adequate to the expressive arts. Finally, we have here a book that is a landmark in charting the path toward future development in expressive arts work. What makes it a landmark? Two prominent psychologists, both of whom have influenced the field of expressive arts in important ways, have come together to present a clear and convincing voice, showing us that language itself can be artful when it diligently follows the traditional traces of art making. This is a major contribution to the field of expressive arts, a pioneering work, bringing together these central concepts, presence and process, with fundamental ideas about the arts and aesthetics.


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