Book Reviews of:

Carole-Lynne Le Navenec and Laurel Bridges, eds, 2005, 377 pages.
Publisher: Charles C. Thomas

by Outi McEachern, RN, MN, CPMHN(C) is a staff nurse in the Short Stay Psychiatry unit at the Peter Lougheed Centre, Calgary, Alberta. October 6, 2005.

This book is very useful for nurses and other health professionals in creative arts therapies, psychology, social work, occupational, recreational medicine and physical therapies. The general public also could benefit from the information provided, particularly in regard to the use of creative art effective approaches in a variety of care giving situations. Three interrelated concepts comprise he structure of this book: creativity, collaboration, and caring. Throughout the book the contributing authors illustrate very clearly how these three pillars collectively enhance the care and well-being of patients/clients.

The book has five sections covering art, music, creative writing, dance/movement, and drama. The sequence of chapters follow the journey of human life from birth to the end of life. The exploration of theoretical and practical applications contributed by the intersectoral cast of well qualified authors provide the readers a sense of profound benefits that come from the therapies when applied to the clients. In the hands of a skilled professional the applications are imaginative, unique, and health enhancing.

This book is a landmark in understanding the connections of nursing care and creative arts therapies. It is well written, informative, interesting and thought provoking. It is however not intended for nurses and other health professionals to be knowledgeable enough to practice any of these creative therapies such as music, dance, etc. One questions why these gentle approaches with creative thinking have not been welcomed with enthusiasm by many medical authorities who claim to provide ‘client enhanced care,' or ‘client centered care,'although the research clearly indicates their benefit in individual well being.

Review by Teija Ravelin, RN, PhD, Lecturer
E-mail address:
University of Applied Sciences
P.O.Box 52, Ketunpolku 4
FI-87101 Kajaani, Finland

As a nursing teacher I think this book is very important and useful in nursing education and nursing practice. It gives new ideas for nurses’ work by encouraging nurses to collaborate with other specialists, and it sheds new light on the work of creative arts therapists. The content of the book is diverse and it has been written by professionals in their respective field of practice. In my review I will concentrate on the topic of my research area: the use of dance in the care of people with dementia.

In Chapter 18, Laurel Bridges writes about the application of dance/movement therapy principles to the nursing care of people with dementia. The focus of the article is on non-verbal communication and its importance in the care of this population. Bridges bases her chapter on a broad and comprehensive range of literary sources.

In the introduction, Bridges describes the meaning of communication to the human being and the changes in their ability to communicate verbally when the person has dementia. She also presents different research results of the use of dance therapy and social dance in the care of elderly people. That information provides the reader with a concise and precise overview of the subsequent parts of the article, and thereby enhances his or her understanding of how and why dance/movement therapy is helpful for people with dementia.

Bridges clarifies the concepts of movement and dance as communication. She describes them in such a way that the reader’s earlier views might change a lot. In my opinion, it is important that we understand dance and movement widely in the nursing context. Dance/movement therapy is also described and introduced in the context of the care of elderly people. Bridges makes use of the theory of dance/movement therapy to introduce movement communication to the nurses working in dementia care. She does not, of course, introduce dance/movement therapy as a therapy method.

What I found very interesting in this chapter were the parts where Bridges introduces recent research on dementia and non-verbal communication, nonverbal nursing approaches and the use of body language in providing reassurance and preventing aggressive behaviour. That gives justification for the importance of the topic.

In summary, this chapter provides principle knowledge and concrete examples of movement observation and connection through movement. I think the consciousness of kinaesthetic empathy and validation through movement is fundamentally important. Movement and nonverbal communication offer nurses new possibilities to really influence different situations with the people with dementia. Bridges justifies that in a credible way. Case studies clarify the theoretical parts.

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