Clay art therapy on emotion regulation: Research, theoretical underpinnings, and treatment mechanisms

Joshua K. M. Nan, Lisa D. Hinz, Vija B. Lusebrink

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Emotion regulation (ER) is a vital modality for understanding and controlling depression and consists of three major interdependent components: positive and negative affects, the mutuality of emotions and cognition, and the physiological mechanisms of emotions.

Studies have noted that art therapy is effective in alleviating depression and stress, promoting emotional openness, and improving general health. Clay art therapy (CAT) has shown significant effects on the reparation and recovery from depression by strengthening ER. Clay as an art medium can induce intense haptic, proprioceptive, and visual sensations that foster ideal cognitive arousal through rhythmic kinesthetic movements to attune inner pleasure and encourage emotional expression.

Building upon the expressive therapies continuum (ETC) construct, the CAT model adopts a bottom-up treatment approach by initiating kinesthetic/sensory stimulation and subsequently promoting positive affective and cognitive experiences. The CAT protocol endorses a two-stage intervention design that progressively embeds levels of the ETC model in its activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Neuroscience of Depression
Subtitle of host publicationFeatures, Diagnosis, and Treatment
EditorsColin R. Martin, Lan-Anh Hunter, Vinood B. Patel, Victor R. Preedy, Rajkumar Rajendram
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780128179345
ISBN (Print)9780128179338
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • Clay art therapy
  • Emotional regulation
  • Expressive therapies continuum
  • Positive affect
  • Alexithymia
  • Neuroscience
  • Arousal system
  • Mindfulness
  • Emotional expression
  • Intervention protocol


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