For a few years now Sunshine Coast Health Centre has offered a weekly workshop centred around clay. With the many calming benefits working with clay offers, it has been a welcomed addition to the program.
Creating, building, and sculpting this natural material is very therapeutic and helps reduce tension, anxiety, and stress. In this blog, one of our Clay Workshop facilitators, Nico Marius, explains how clients interact with clay and the transformations he notices in clients over the duration of their stay.
The Clay Workshop
Every Sunday afternoon, clients excitedly gather to dig their hands into clay. The Clay Workshop is one of our most popular workshops, and it’s no surprise, according to Nico. “The feel of the clay is soothing and helps relieve stress and anxiety. The texture of the clay and its malleability allows people to mould it to their liking and express their emotions in creative ways.”
With three pottery wheels overlooking the ocean, it’s hard not to feel at ease. And if the pottery wheel feels daunting, Nico explains there are different ways to approach clay. “Participants are encouraged to try their hand at sculpting and modelling pottery, including hand-building techniques, decorating, glazing, or using a clay field.”
If a clay field is a new term to you, allow Nico to explain. “A clay field consists of a rectangular wooden frame filled with clay, ready to be modelled. The wooden frame is a container, and the participant is able to connect with their sense of touch, emotions, and desires.” Rather than focusing on an end product, clients are able to focus on their senses while working with the clay.
The Healing Connection Between Clay and Recovery
Entering a residential treatment facility can be a difficult step requiring an immense amount of courage. While the treatment programs offer various therapeutic appointments and workshops for clients to explore, simply working with clay at the end of a long week is sometimes all that’s needed.
Did you have a hard week and have some built-up aggression? Throw some clay around. Release your aggression through wedging clay, slamming it on the table, or even poking your fingers through it. Clay offers a healthy way to release tension in your body.
Clay also encourages patience and almost forces you to slow down – there is no instant gratification. You have to work with the clay. If you don’t, the clay will make your hastiness known by falling apart, cracking, or even exploding in the kiln.
While working with clay offers calming benefits in the moment, the cherished treasures clients take with them help in the long run. Nico adds, “The clay creations can be kept as a memento of therapy and time spent at SCHC. They can be used as a piece of encouragement to continue exploring emotions and feelings, even after treatment.”
Go On, Give Pottery a Try
Many of the men seeking treatment at Sunshine Coast Health Centre haven’t created a piece of art since childhood. It’s inspiring watching clients overcome their fear of trying something unfamiliar and quickly find joy in creating. Nico explains, “Many participants of the workshop say they aren’t artistic, but they always leave with a creation filled with memories, meaning, and pride.”
Additionally, working alongside fellow clients creates a sense of community and connection, which are pillars for long-term recovery. Clients begin to understand they aren’t alone in their journey and are able to share their experiences with one another.
Hopefully, after reading this blog, you feel inspired to try your hand at working with clay. If you find traditional forms of meditation difficult, this is a great alternative for entering a calm state of mind. Remember, have fun!
At Sunshine Coast Health Centre & Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we provide a nurturing environment where individuals can benefit from various therapies to support their treatment and recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with problematic substance use and mental health concerns, contact us today.