|Old wooden post Portrane, Co. Dublin, October 2010|
Poiesis is the creative act or, indeed, the essential healing or therapeutic act of integration and re-integration. While poiesis in its original Greek sense may refer to poetry, here in Levine's work as in the writings of other psychotherapists it is used metaphorically to refer to all artistic activity. For Levine as for Hillman and many other psychologists and psychotherapists poetry in its restricted as well as its metaphorical sense is very much the language of the soul.
|Crushed shells, Portrane, October 2010|
.... if, as we have said, art and therapy are essentially united then it may be most proper to think of the expressive arts therapist as an artist/therapist. Artist/therapists need to be situated at the borderline of art and psychotherapy; ideally they will draw from both fields. Their intention is to heal and to create: to heal by creating. Artist/therapists have the dual task of understanding both the therapeutic and the creative processes....
In addition, artist/therapists must have undergone and be constantly undergoing the therapeutic process within themselves. They must be familiar with their own pain and suffering and with the attempt to transform them through creative action. Working as a therapist is itself a way of re-fashioning the personality. Artist/therapists must be continually open to self-transformation if they are to be able to assist others in this task. (Poiesis: The Language of Psychology and the Speech of the Soul, Stephen K. Levine, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1997, p. 6)