The phenomenology as a reference horizon for process-oriented clay art therapy

In the context of process-oriented art therapy, the phenomenological approach emerges as a lens through which to examine and understand the artistic process in its entirety and complexity. Phenomenology, as a philosophy focusing on the study of lived experiences and individual perceptions, provides a valuable conceptual framework for analyzing the depths of artistic expression and creation in the therapeutic context. The choice of phenomenology as a reference point for process-oriented art therapy is motivated by its emphasis on understanding subjective experiences and the search for meaning in human experience.

In art therapy, where creativity and personal expression are at the core of the therapeutic process, phenomenology offers an appropriate approach to explore the meaning and nuances of artistic experience. Moreover, phenomenology allows for the analysis of the artistic process through different perspectives and levels of experience. This approach enables the therapist to grasp the subtle nuances of artistic expression and to understand the implicit meanings behind the artworks created during therapy. Phenomenology invites us to explore the client’s inner world through the medium of art, allowing for a deeper understanding of the emotional, cognitive, and creative processes at play.

In the context of clay art therapy, the phenomenological perspective emerges as a fundamental reference point for understanding the artistic process and interpreting the artwork, especially when viewed through the lens of Goethean science. The latter stands out for its view of observation as a tool to access archetypes through form. In contrast to conventional scientific approaches, which decompose the phenomenon into its parts and analyze it in a reductionist manner, Goethe emphasizes the importance of observation and perception as ways to acquire knowledge of the observed phenomenon. He argues that form is an indication of the underlying archetype and that observer and phenomenon are interconnected on an equal level, part of the observed phenomenon itself.

The form is mobile, vital, and in motion, unfolding in formation; to grasp it through observation, according to the criteria of Goethean Science, we must remain in the process, only then can we embrace its Truth that unfolds qualities over a temporal axis. Behind the observation of becoming metamorphic, emergent, it is understood that the whole is present in the parts and vice versa. In the journey of clay art therapy, phenomenological observation according to Goethean science allows us to grasp the form in movement and metamorphosis, recognizing that the entire life/process cycle of an artistic work reveals its essence. The metamorphosis itself suggests that the form is in becoming, and that each phase of the artistic process contains the entire truth within it.


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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