Mud Therapy

Last week’s article got me thinking about ways clay can be used in art therapy. Since it is messy it might not be the best option when working with certain populations but it is a good sensory material and therefore should be given proper credit when it comes to art therapy.

I started to think about how clay could be seen as hard to control at first but then become somewhat controllable later. A common population that feels the need to be in control are those with eating disorders, now I’d like to start by saying everyone is different and this is by no means the case for everyone but it is just one of the many characteristics common in a person with an eating disorder. In an article from Psychology Today, Emily Troscianko quotes Dr. Christopher Freeman’s understanding of control when it comes to eating disorders, which explains that those with anorexia nervosa often are attempting to control their lives and turn to controlling their diets as a means to do so. Sometimes they see their eating habits as the one thing they can be in control of in their life when everything else is out of their hands. Another reason for this need for control could be them feeling great pressure to succeed.

I started to think that clay could be a very successful medium for this population because clay, especially on a wheel, is hard to control; this would be a way to see how the client would respond to this “loss of control.” Allowing them to let go of control for the better. I started to talk to my friend, Sarah, who is also an art therapy major, about my idea. She brought up that since it is a medium that needs to be controlled they could be the controllers of it in the long run, once they learn how to properly control it. I think this would allow them to channel their control into something other than their diet or their body; it would become an outlet for their control. If I were to do this with a client there would also be an objective or goal behind the piece made as well as the process being a part of the therapy. I would like to point out that we are undergrad students therefore not licensed art therapists in anyway but we have taken classes and are trying to apply what we’ve learned to this situation.

Sarah also brought up the point the clay would be a good medium to use in a long term treatment facility. This brought up my other idea of using clay as a medium with those affected by substance abuse. In class we were told creating sensory art with the substance abuse population is a good idea because it can act as a substitute in place of one’s addictive habits. In a long term rehabilitation facility this would be seen as a good idea since this would allow patients to see their hard work pay off, see themselves become successful over time. I’ll explain, ceramics is a long process; to start with one has to create their piece from clay, whether that is hand building or throwing a piece from the wheel. That piece then takes time to dry. Once dry it has to be bisque fired in a kiln which takes a couple of days. Next the piece needs to be glazed and later put into a glaze kiln, which also takes a couple of days until then. This essentially becomes at least a 2 week process if not more. After all this work one would be able to see there hard work pay off.

These are just some food for thought ideas I’ve been having this week and I’d figure I’d share them with the rest of the world out there.

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