There is nothing else quite like clay. In art therapy, clay is referred to as a “regressive medium”. Meaning that it has the unique ability to bring up memories or feelings from our past, and often dredges up buried or forgotten things from our childhood. Something I have noticed is that when a person has not played with clay for many years and are exposed to it, usually the first thing they make will be connected to their childhood.
This may be because clay is sexual and sensual. A good example is the scene from the movie Ghost, when the two lovers are gently caressing each others hands while they throw a pot. Clay can bring you back to the developmental stage where the world revolves around you, you are the cause of all things, good and bad. It is a Transitional Object in that it reflects when we destroy it and when we build it up. Clay bends to your will and is easily manipulated. Also unlike drawing, clay works with you, not against you because nothing is permanent with clay. In drawing you need to let go a lot of the control because the pencil requires it, with clay you hold the power. All lines can be smoothed over with ease and you can start over never having to worry about wasting material.
I love clay.
And I REALLY love modeling clay. Specifically grey Roma Plastilina. This is the clay I use with my clients, it holds incredible detail and has a good density so it can maintain complicated shapes without slumping over. I use grey, not just because its my favorite color 🙂 but because its neutral and even after years of use dirt doesn’t contaminate the color.
This is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to using clay in art therapy. I encourage you to get some modeling clay and expereince the magic for yourself!