Clay Therapy Vignettes

I remember when training as a therapist I created a clay image of a pregnant human form. I felt especially connected to this image, I was aware of its importance whilst not yet being fully aware of its deeper meaning, nor the powerful reach this image would have into my future and on my own continuing process. I photographed the image and re-visit it. Each time it becomes the catalyst for my continuing growth and ongoing personal process. This image reaches into the very soul of me and draws out what will become. It cuts through my conscious defences and allows me to experience and to know my potential. It is the place of creation within me...The power of clay!

(The above photograph shows the work from a session involving a step-parent and child as they began to establish a relationship)

Choosing a small, four centimeter cube of clay, Roger almost ridiculed himself for choosing such a tiny lump saying he had no idea what his fingers could possibly do with the clay. He described his process as follows,

I don’t know what my fingers are doing but it seems as if my left hand is stroking the clay whilst my right hand seems to want to hold firm the small right side. I think my left hand is enjoying the stroking sensation. I feel calmer and I’ve noticed that my breathing has slowed down. This is reminding me of when I stroked my new-born daughter’s cheek. You see, she was premature and needed to be in an incubator for a few weeks. I was told that the more I could touch and gentle stroke my baby the better survival rate she had. This little piece of clay and what I’m doing to it is making me ‘well up’ and I’m supposed to be a grown up bloke! Anyway, I’ll come back to see what I can do with the clay now. As I’ve been talking to you I’ve almost worn the clay thin by stroking it but I don’t want it to tear; I don’t want it to break. It’s mustn’t break. If it did, it could be a doughnut shape but I don’t want it to break. No! I can’t let it break.

Enquiring as to what this might mean to Roger he continued,

I’ve been at a low ebb lately. It felt like I’d broken through to a sorrowful part of me and I’m fearful of breaking down. I couldn’t have coped if my baby had died.

Roger lowered his head into his hands and wept and wept. The small clay cube had helped to release the anguish and sadness he had pushed down for the past six months. His baby daughter’s premature birth brought Roger to an existential point between life and possible death. In the therapy sessions that followed Roger explored the difficulties that he and his partner had battled with in the early weeks of their daughter’s birth.