Exploring Phenomenology in Process-Oriented Clay Art Therapy

As an art therapist deeply immersed in the world of clay art therapy, I’ve often found myself drawn to the profound philosophical underpinnings that shape our understanding of the therapeutic process. In my studies,  I delved into the integration of phenomenology as a foundational framework for understanding the artistic journey within this unique form of therapy.

Phenomenology, to me, isn’t just a theoretical concept; it’s a guiding principle that places immense value on individual experiences and perceptions. Rooted in the works of philosophers like Husserl and further expanded upon by thinkers like Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, phenomenology invites us to explore the subjective aspects of human consciousness and how we make sense of the world around us.

One aspect I find particularly fascinating is the intersection of phenomenology with Goethean science, which prioritizes observation and form as gateways to deeper truths. In my practice, I’ve witnessed firsthand how this approach enriches the therapeutic modeling process. Through careful observation and intuitive engagement with the clay medium, both therapist and client embark on a journey of discovery, uncovering hidden truths and fostering personal growth.

Process-oriented art therapy, at its core, is about understanding subjective experiences and fostering self-awareness and healing. Phenomenology provides an ideal conceptual framework for deciphering the artistic process within this therapeutic modality. By embracing the lived experiences of individuals, therapists like myself can guide clients through the depths of their inner worlds, using clay as a medium of expression and exploration.

Central to my practice is the belief in the transformative power of art therapy when grounded in phenomenological principles. As I guide clients through the artistic process, I see firsthand how clay’s unique qualities—its softness, malleability, and responsiveness to touch—mirror the dynamic nature of human emotions and experiences. Through tactile interaction with clay, clients embark on a sensory-rich journey of self-discovery, guided by my presence and guided processes.

In conclusion, my journey as an art therapist has been profoundly shaped by the principles of phenomenology. By embracing subjective experiences and harnessing the expressive potential of clay, I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in my clients. Through art therapy, we navigate the complexities of the human experience, fostering healing, personal growth, and self-exploration every step of the way.


Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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