Using the clay slip game in art therapy: a sensory intervention

Mordechai Klein, Dafna Regev, Sharon Snir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of the present study was to achieve a better understanding of the experience of playing with slip and the ways in which participants experience the Clay Slip Game and how they perceive the therapeutic qualities of the material, thus including the potential for art therapists to add the Slip Game to their toolbox. Ten experienced qualified art therapists and 48 art therapy students took part. All participants engaged in the Slip Game during the study and reported their experiences in an interview (therapists) or in written personal reflections (students). Data analysis adhered to the principles of Grounded Theory [Charmaz (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage Publications]. The findings indicate that the experience of the Slip Game is mainly a sensory (tactile), playful, pleasant and calming experience of making without the need to produce an end product. The experience is more internal (meditative) and stimulates feelings of regression. The therapeutic qualities of the material, as discussed by the participants, are related to the regressive and sublimative processes afforded by the material, and as a material that enables sensory, behavioural, emotional, and motor regulation. Plain-language summary Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses artistic materials and creative processes in the therapeutic process. Since art materials are the primary tools through which the art therapy processes occur, therapists need to have an in-depth understanding of the art materials they offer to their clients [Moon (2010). Materials & media in art therapy: Critical understandings of diverse artistic vocabularies. New York, NY: Routledge]. Slip is a mixture of water with an additional substance that produces a thick and saline-type paste [De Montmollin (2010). The barbotine game-challenge of creativity. Antwerpen.]. It can be made by diluting and filtering any kind of clay to make it semi-fluid. Playing with slip as a distinct and separate technique was defined as a ‘game’ by Daniel De Montmollin, a ceramicist. De Montmollin created the Slip Game as a way to help people free themselves from internal and external censorship or criticism. The goal of this study was to understand the participants’ experience of the Slip Game and whether they found the process therapeutic. Forty-eight art therapy students and 10 art therapists took part in the study. After engaging in the Slip Game, the art therapists reported their experiences in an interview and the students wrote personal reflections. These were then analysed using Grounded Theory. The findings show that the participants experienced the Slip Game as mainly sensory and reported it was pleasant, calming, playful and tactile, a way of ‘making’ without the need to produce an end product. They also found the experience to be meditative, that it stimulated feelings of regression and felt that engaging with slip also improved behaviour, emotional control and fine hand-movement skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-75
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 British Association of Art Therapists.


  • Art therapy
  • clay
  • materials
  • regression
  • slip Game
  • therapeutic qualities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology


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