Non-verbal representations of maternal holding of preschoolers

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This paper explored non-verbal maternal representations of holding as expressed in the clay sculptures depicting mother and child figures created by twenty-four mothers to preschoolers (age two to four years). In addition to non-verbal data, the mothers were interviewed regarding their subjective understanding of the sculptures they made. Qualitative analysis of the sculptures and sculpting interviews revealed a continuum of active vs. symbolic holding representations, with unique middle categories of passive holding representations that provides the child both protection and autonomy. The discussion includes findings' theoretical implications in light of attachment and psychoanalytic theories, and therapeutic applications with a clinical vignette in art therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Art-therapy
  • Clay sculpting
  • Holding
  • Mothers' representations
  • Preschool children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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