Learn how to use clay to enable young people to express and explore their emotions and experiences.
Ideal for all therapists who want to explore the use of clay as a means of enabling young people to give form and voice to feelings they find difficult to express in words.
Outlines the underpinning theory, and covers equipment, age-appropriate techniques, exploring and responding to the created image, and integrating meaning and understanding. Includes creative and imaginative exercises and detailed case studies, with themes including fostering; bereavement; depression; bullying; drug and eating issues.
“In this thought-provoking book, Lynne Souter-Anderson invites her readers to accompany her on a journey into an exciting and relatively unexplored area of therapy. She builds on sound research foundations to formulate a way of working with perhaps the most basic medium – that of clay – and shows, with the aid of numerous case vignettes, how such work can be effective for a range of presenting problems. She writes in an accessible and engaging manner of her own development as a therapist, and the circumstances in which she came to be an authority on this approach. The book provides a valuable overview of the development of this field and of current initiatives in therapeutic use of clay. Souter-Anderson draws on insights from her own practice to propose practical suggestions for therapists to introduce work with clay with, among others, young children, adolescents, and disabled clients; she makes a convincing case for its potential as a therapeutic tool and supports this with a new theoretical underpinning which she terms a ‘Theory of Contact’. Avoiding the limitations of a reductionistic manual, this book nevertheless offers a wealth of ideas, exercises and resources for anyone wishing to make use of clay in their own practice.
While of obvious relevance to trainees and practitioners working in art, play or drama therapy, the author’s journey returns the reader to the existential root of therapy – its concern with what it means to be human. For this reason alone, this is a book worthy of the attention of therapists from all theoretical backgrounds, while as a pioneering text on therapeutic use of clay it more than earns its place on the bookshelves of creative-minded practitioners.” Professor Simon du Plock Head of the Doctoral Programme, Metanoia Institute, London.
“Since clay is my favourite medium in my work with children, Iwas thrilled to have the opportunity to read and comment on Touching Clay: Touching What? The Use of Clay in Therapy. Very little has been written about this medium for therapy and this book fills a much needed void. It is a fine, important contribution.” Violet Oaklander, Ph.D. Author of Window To Our Children: A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adoescents and Hidden Treasure: A map to the Child’s Inner Self.
“This is a long awaited contribution to the Creative Arts ‘Toolkit’TM . An important addition to the Play Therapy literature.” Monika Jephcott President, Play Therapy International.
“This book weaves history, theory and real-life stories to create a wonderful counterpane of vitality, but always grounded in personal experiences of working with clay within the therapy space. Throughout the journey, we are given illustrations from the author’s research making it a book that will inform, inspire and excite those who are interested in including clay as part of their therapeutic tool box. I couldn’t put it down.” Joy Hasler, MA Music Therapist. Clinical Director of Catchpoint Adoption Support Agency, Bristol.
Reviewed by Janet Barraclough Independent Practitioner, Cambridgeshire, UK. BACP Accredited Therapist With the question posed by her title, and from the very first page, Lynne Souter-Anderson draws the reader into an exciting exploration of what is this substance clay. The book is a catalyst for provoking much thought about this substance, its place in our lives and its use and value in play therapy.
Souter-Anderson explores cultural and religious beliefs about clay and its use. From the creation of the world and man, to the use of clay in the making of pottery; she spans the beginning of time to the present day. There is a strong sense of spiritual and therapeutic dimensions of both clay itself and working with it, and this is reflected in the research she went on to pursue for her doctoral thesis on the use of clay and its therapeutic value. This book has grown out of that research, but also has a feeling of being a culmination of the part clay has played in her life and her work.
While falling within creative arts therapy, Souter-Anderson sees the use of clay in therapy as a competency in its own right. The purpose of her research, and her book, is to raise awareness of the benefits of using clay therapeutically. What she does in this book is draw together her extensive practical experience and the theoretical concepts which emerge from her research data to formulate a theory to underpin a body of knowledge for using clay in play therapy.
In setting out her research she considers retrospectively her body of work with clay in non-therapy environments and training workshops and group experiences with therapeutic professionals. As part of her research she also interviewed ten studio potters and collates data from one hundred participants of her clay research workshops where three specific exercises were used. Finally, she extrapolates from the data, emerging themes which she uses to formulate a rationale and theory to underpin the use of clay in therapy that she names The Theory of Contact: Physical, Emotional and Metaphorical.
In the following chapters she goes on to present her theory, an integration drawing on Jungian theory and Object Relations theories, and to explore existential themes which emerge when using clay in therapy. Throughout these chapters there are quotes, vignettes and case studies which illuminate and bring to life her research and her theory. These chapters warrant careful reading and reflection to fully take on board the concepts – some of which readers may not be familiar with.
Having set out the theoretical background to her work and research, Souter-Anderson moves the emphasis in the remaining chapters to practice and the use of clay in play therapy and therapy in general. She suggests ways it can be helpful for working with specific issues, gives advice regarding the practicalities of its use in a therapeutic setting, as well as offering a wealth of images and processes from her research and clinical practice. There is also an ideas chapter with plenty of photographs to inspire the use of clay with children and adolescents.
Souter-Anderson presents an academic book intended for a wide range of therapists and trainees. What it is not, is a manual of how to use clay in therapy. It is an exploration of the writer’s passion for clay and how that has permeated her life from being a school girl, through teaching pottery for four decades, and her clinical practice using the arts spanning twenty years. Drawing on her considerable knowledge from all of these areas, the book tells of her development as a therapist alongside the development of her use of clay in therapy and play therapy. While Souter-Anderson’s knowledge and perspective are broad, the book also reaches the very depths of what is important for our existence. At its very heart it has captured what happens to us when we hold, and work with, this material – this very stuff of life. Her theory is a vessel for the containing and the processing of the numinous experience that is the use of clay in therapy.
The book is written in an engaging style which left me eager to go on from one chapter to another. At times I found it hard to put down. It tells the story of intertwining journeys involving clay: Souter-Anderson’s journey using the material, the journey of her research and formulation of her theory, and the journeys of those using clay who generously share their moving experiences and reflections. Her hope is through her passion for the subject she will inspire others to find a way of incorporating clay into their clinical practice. And she feels there is much more to be explored, be it by her, or others who share her passion.
This book is a worthwhile addition to any play therapist’s bookshelf, especially if you are interested in integrating clay into your practice. After finishing reading the book all I felt I wanted to do was reach for some clay.