Gary Ansdell and Mercédès Pavlicevic
(London, Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2001, 255 pages, $23.95 paperback)
Review by: Frances F. Kaplan MPS, DA, ATR-BC
Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, OR, USA
Available online 22 January 2003.
It is no secret that arts therapists shy away from research. It is also apparent that many arts therapists feel inadequate when it comes to the art of scholarly writing. Written by arts therapists (in this case, music therapists) for arts therapists of every stripe, this book is one that works hard to address these concerns. In essence, it takes the reader by the hand and attempts to lead her (or him) gently through the intricacies of preparing a research proposal, carrying out the proposed research, and writing up the finished project––with much encouragement along the way. This is a big task, and as might be expected, it is more fully realized in some areas than in others. Nonetheless, this research text is the best and most comprehensive one for arts therapists that I have come across so far.
I’ll start with the book’s plusses––which are significant. The authors employ the innovative device of creating two fictional arts therapists, a female music therapist and a male art therapist, who are about to begin research projects. The male therapist must do a quantitative study for his employer to demonstrate that his work has value, and the female therapist undertakes a qualitative study in order to satisfy the final requirements of her degree program. Neither has done any research before. The narrative then follows these two as they work through the stages of designing, executing, and finishing their projects––as well as their anxieties and concerns. Offering a smidgen of titillation, the characters’ story also involves a budding personal relationship that seems meant to keep the reader guessing as to the outcome, but that carries its own relevant message. (I won’t say more about this lest I spoil the fun for the reader.)