Clay sculpture within an object relational therapy : a phenomenological-hermeneutic case study

by Masters, C.-L.

Abstract (Summary)
The overall aim of this thesis is to explore the process of working with the Edwards claywork method with a psychotherapy client who had significant relational difficulties and feared being exposed as defective.

Within this there are particular aims: Firstly, to investigate whether the distancing that art therapy can create, can help the client with relational difficulties to tolerate unexpressed disavowed feelings, in particular her sense of shame about being exposed as defective; and secondly, to examine whether material evoked through the claywork process can assist in furthering the psychological formulation of this kind of client. The research was a phenomenological-hermeneutic case study of a psychotherapy client, called Kim. Kim’s experience of therapy, including two claywork sessions, was documented. This comprises a thematic narrative of her therapy process prior to the claywork process, as well as a thematic narrative focusing on the two claywork sessions. Her clay sculpture was photographed and alphabetically labeled according to the chronological order in which she made the eight pieces comprising her sculpture. A hermeneutic reading of the narratives was conducted using theoretical perspectives including object relations, Adlerian psychology and art therapy.

It was concluded that, firstly, the distancing that art therapy can create does help the client, who is afraid of being exposed as defective, to tolerate previously disavowed and unexpressed feelings; and secondly, art therapy such as the Edwards claywork method, does deepen psychological formulation of the client’s affective and relational difficulties. However, although the image may graphically symbolize unconscious aspects of a client’s psyche, the present study illustrates that a client may not always be able to enter into a relationship with the image or dialogue between conscious and unconscious states. In this respect, the present study focuses on aspects of art therapy of which there is limited literature.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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