A qualitative analysis of a clay art therapy project in enhancing emotion regulation among secondary school youth in the context of socio-political unrest

Joshua KM Nan, Wendy WT Wong


Background: The drastic socio-political unrest in Hong Kong (HK) due to the different political issues in 2019 and the novel coronavirus epidemic has drawn rising negative emotions in the society, which the demand for psychological support is soaring. As the epidemic has greatly limited the flexibility of rendering conventional face-to-face counselling, alternative therapeutic approaches are vital to combat the accelerating demand of social and psychological support.
Methods: This study reports the qualitative research results of investigating the treatment efficacy and the mechanism of art therapy with clay (CAT), on the emotional problems of youth in the context of HK. The intervention composes of six 2-hour sessions led by an art therapist who is also an experienced school social worker.
Results: The phenomenographic approach of analysing the post-intervention focus groups triangulated by the in-sessions art-based inquiry worksheet responses have depicted the therapeutic effects of CAT in three different themes as(1) releasing physical tension, soothing and regulating emotion; (2) building persistence in face of adversities and failures, and; (3) art products as representations of new meanings of life and positive self-image.
Conclusions:The CAT process and the created ceramic artworks show powerful therapeutic effects in reorganizing and incorporating challenging experiences and failures, regulating feelings, and instilling new meanings to existential struggles and life issues. Traumatic experience and challenging situation have an existential implication that help one to recapture the core values of life and promote psychological positivity. The creation of animal symbols in the youngsters’ ceramic artworks embrace a sophisticated process of charging emotion, revitalize ideas, and connect personal experience to the collective experience.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.6092/2612-4033/0110-2590


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