Michael Hanes' Roads to the Unconscious provides a much needed exposition of the way a particular theme or image can be worked with and utilized through drawings in psychotherapy. Increasingly, mental health professionals engage clients in the use of art materials but then often have difficulty in moving beyond the superficial or overly rigid interpretive view of such images. This book offers a way of looking at and thinking about the images which expands rather than limits and pathologizes. This expansion is one of the key differences between the typical use of drawings by psychology as a quasi-standardized assessment and that of art therapy. As utilized by Michael Hanes and other trained art therapists, images become more than fixed indicators of pathology - they become rich landscapes of thoughts, ideas, associations, meanings, experiences and feelings. Thus, the road yields many levels of meaning, and following the guidance in this book one can begin to explore and travel these roads more effectively. The case examples given, in particular, point to the richness of the road drawing directive. The cases support the notion that the image along with the statements of the client, associations of the therapist and client, all combine in a synergistic mix which can add both focus and efficiency to therapy overall.
This book should not be confused with numerous "interpretive manual" available regarding other drawings. This is, as the sub-title states, "a manual for understanding." Understanding is a complex and, at times, ambiguous task. Understanding implies an openness to different points of view or meanings. The key concept which is emphasized throughout this text but bears repeating is the statement: "There is no single or absolute meaning for any particular sign or element that may appear in a road drawing." Co-existing with this truth is the simultaneous truth that images such as the road can offer valuable insights, ideas and signposts for the therapeutic journey. The road is a perennially rich metaphor which is only natural for mental health professionals to utilize. This book can greatly enhance the process while respecting the unique differences individuals present on their singular paths to health and wholeness.