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Transforming Emotions into Art: The Healing Practice of Sculpting Vessels in Art Therapy

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

The metaphor of the vessel is often used to describe the idea of safeguarding or containing something valuable or precious. It represents a secure and protected space that keeps something valuable or sacred safe from harm. The vessel or container can take many forms, such as a physical object like a safe or a vault, or a more abstract concept like a set of rules or guidelines. Sculpting vessels in art therapy is a powerful and transformative practice that can help individuals explore and express their emotions, thoughts, and experiences. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of sculpting vessels in art therapy and how this practice can support healing and growth.

The vessel often symbolically represents our inner world, which includes our emotions, beliefs, and experiences. Protective containers, on the other hand, are external tools and resources we use to manage and regulate our inner world. Just like a vessel that holds water, our minds hold emotions, thoughts, and experiences. However, the vessel can also become overwhelmed and spill over if not properly managed. Protective containers act as a safeguard against overflow and can help us manage our emotions and experiences in a healthier way.

This metaphor can be applied to many different contexts, such as personal relationships, business practices, or even mental health. Vessels can also symbolize transformation and change. This is because they can hold and transport materials from one state to another, such as from liquid to solid, or from raw materials to finished products.

The process of sculpting and creating one’s own vessel offers many benefits, including promoting mindfulness and relaxation, providing a safe and supportive space for expression, encouraging creative problem-solving, supporting emotional regulation, and offering a tangible representation of growth and healing. This can be particularly helpful for those who struggle with anxiety or stress.

How to Get Started with Sculpting Vessels:

  1. Find a qualified art therapist: It is important to work with a qualified and licensed art therapist who has the expertise and training to guide you through the process.

  2. Gather art materials: You will need clay or other sculpting materials, as well as any other materials you may want to use for decoration, such as paint or glaze.

  3. Set an intention: Set an intention for your sculpting practice, such as exploring a particular emotion or experience.

  4. Begin sculpting: Start sculpting your vessel, allowing your creativity and intuition to guide you. Choose a simple shape, such as a bowl or vase, and work on developing the form. Pay attention to the curves and angles of the vessel, as well as your intentions with regard to a symmetrical or asymmetrical design. You can add texture to your vessel by using different tools, such as a fork or a sponge. You can also try imprinting patterns or designs into the clay.

  5. Reflect on your experience: After completing your sculpture, take some time to reflect on your experience and the emotions and thoughts that came up during the process.

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