By Rick McVicar
Those suffering from chronic diseases can push, pull and squeeze a touch of hope from modeling clay, according to a study found on ResearchGate’s website.
Peerapat Suputtitada, in International Journal of Medical Science and Current Research, July, 2021, writes that people sculpting with clay have a greater sense of hope through gaining more autonomy.
“Hope plays an important role in allowing patients to add meaning to their lives,” Suputtitada writes (p. 2.).
The finding comes from a study of patients feeling hopelessness. The article includes a review of brain scan studies.
Suputtitada lists a myriad of benefits coming from clay therapy. For instance, clay can improve mood and decrease anxiety for people challenged by strokes or epilepsy. Sculpting can alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s and decrease stress for cancer patients.
The benefits arise from the sense of touch.
“Touch is one of the basic human experiences,” the research notes (p. 1).
Clay offers a nonverbal route into the expression of difficult thoughts and feelings. Abstract thoughts can be symbolized and negative feelings can be safely expressed.
Several benefits of clay sculpting are also listed by Jo-Ann Finkelstein, writing for Psychology Today. In “7 Unexpected Ways Clay is Therapeutic,” March 8, 2020, Finkelstein writes that clay heals through physicality and touch.
“Even a light touch on a lump of clay leaves an imprint,” Finkelstein notes.
Besides relying on the sense of touch, clay sculpting requires making decisions. Often times, those decisions are based on emotions as much as reason. Further, clay requires patience, as time is necessary with several steps for a lump of clay to become a finished piece of art.
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