Clay Work and Body Image in Art Therapy : Using Metaphor and Symbolism to Heal book cover
1st Edition

Clay Work and Body Image in Art Therapy
Using Metaphor and Symbolism to Heal

ISBN 9780367564650
Published May 10, 2021 by Routledge
214 Pages 46 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Clay Work and Body Image in Art Therapy provides an important addition to resources available in the field of clay work and art therapy, highlighting the unique sensory aspects of the medium and its ability to provide a therapeutic resource for women who experience body image issues.

Chapters offer a comprehensive distillation of current knowledge in the field of body image, clay work, neuroscience, and art therapy, building a theoretical framework around personal narratives. Case studies examine the benefits of exploring body image through clay work within art therapy practice, providing a positive and contained way to find personal acceptance and featuring photographs of clay body image sculptures created by research participants that highlight their individual stories and experiences. As well as offering both clinical and practical implications, the text provides a full protocol for the research and evaluation methods carried out, enabling further replication of the intervention and research methods by other therapists.

This book highlights clay work as a significant resource for art therapists, arts in health practitioners, and counsellors, providing an emotive yet contained approach to the development of personal body image acceptance and self-compassion. 

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Section One: Preparing the Ground - Digging for Clay

Chapter 1. Introduction & Context: Body Image, Art Therapy & Clay Work

Chapter 2. The Distorted Mirror: Body Image, The Critical Mother & Shame

Chapter 3. Making Connections: Metaphor, Evolution & Neuroscience

Section Two: Vignettes & Case Studies – Shaping the Self

Chapter 4: Case Vignettes – Study One, Sessions One, Two, Three & Four

Chapter 5: Case Studies, Study Two: Metaphor, Symbolism & Body Image

Chapter 6: Case Studies, Study Two: Mother’s and Other’s Influence on Body Image

Chapter 7: Case Studies, Study Two: Clay Work as Meaningful Play

Section Three: Protocol, Evaluation Methods & Conclusions – Opening the Kiln

Chapter 8. Intervention Protocol

Chapter 9. Methods of Analysis

Chapter 10. Adding the Glaze: Finding Meaning and Healing through Metaphor & Symbolism



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Trisha Crocker, PhD, is an art therapist working with at-risk children and women in private practice. She runs workshops in clay-making and body image from her pottery in Oxfordshire, England.

Susan M.D. Carr, PhD, is an artist, author, and art therapist in private practice, and currently co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Art Therapy. She has also developed and researched Portrait Therapy.


"Clay Work and Body Image in Art Therapy is an insightful synthesis of women’s authentic expressions of body image experience and representation, with extensive theoretical integration and analysis. Trisha Crocker and Susan Carr present, through the art-based vignettes and the authors’ reflective writing, a lyrical and clinical account of new knowledge in this field, emerging through the clay work sculptures. The book works on a number of levels – providing insight into the body image issues women face that echo and enrich our understanding, and how these issues can be passed down through the mother-daughter relationship. Offering new knowledge and a transparent process of analysis, this book is important reading for practicing therapists and students alike and sows the seed for further research in this important field."

Michal Bat-Or, Art therapist, lecturer and researcher at University of Haifa, Israel

"This well-researched book draws on the most helpful and influential theories which have become integral to UK art therapy practice: embodiment of emotions, attachment theory and the impact of the socio-cultural context on mental health and in this case, body-image. It elegantly demonstrates how clay has specific attributes which support the exploration of these issues within art therapy. Above all, it is anchored in the authors’ extensive clinical experience and the stunning visual imagery makes it a much welcome publication which will be of interest to arts therapists, service users and artists in health."

Val Huet, PhD, Director of Research & Development, British Association of Art Therapists