„So if we seek the laws of sculpture we must realise that they are in fact the laws of our etheric body. The etheric body is above all a body of forces. Basically everything in the etheric body is rhythm, a cyclical rhythm of movement or activity, and it has a spatial character only in as far as it inhabits the physical body. Occupying the physical body and extending, as it does, its activity and rhythmical play into this physical body.“
Rudolf Steiner GA275, Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom, second lecture, Dornach, 29 December 1914, tr. J. Collis.
Therapeutic modelling and sculpturing is an art therapy and a method of therapy of anthroposophic medicine serving for formative growth. By activating and impulsing soul potency and vigour of thinking, feeling and will individual latitude and personal recovery can be attained. Self-regulation to highest degrees and gaining freedom in everyday life and stimulation of resources is aimed for. The therapeutic approach is oriented towards action and adventure in the field setting of visual art. By imaginative impulses, sensual indentation, body-perception, emotions and notions forms are developed out of handwork, sculpturing and embossment.
Diagnosis and intervention are oriented by Rudolf Steiner’s proposed conceptions of the human being and the phenomenology of Goethe. Body, life, soul and mind of the healthy or diseased personality become all together acknowledged and respected. Anthroposophic art therapy is fully oriented towards human needs. By artistic practice the soul-oriented impacts can have effects into physiology. Congealment can be freed to move again and vitalized. Distemper will be guarded and calmed. As the artistic process comes along with human life processes like search, experiment, adventure, overturn, recommencement, internalisation, perception and activity it will stimulate, promote and support health.
Modelling and sculpturing therapy is offered stationary and ambulant in therapeutics, clinics, centres of rehabilitation, curative and special needs educational institutions, social-therapeutic facilities, in the penal system and in the field of international emergency and disaster management missions. In some European countries the health insurance cover the costs of medically attested art therapy. The national professional institutions and therapists grant willingly information.
Please contact the professional association of your country to find therapists in your area.
Impacts and efficacy of art therapy are based on (long-term) empirical research to which academic research of the last years added confirmation and differentiation (also see menu item research). The basic insight of processes and laws of culture-originating art by humans (like architecture, sculpture, painting, music, singing, poetry) having retroacting impulses, because humans are created by similar processes and laws, e.g. straightened up body composition, rhythmically active organism, colour inclined soul-sentiment, musical objectivity and brilliant self-expression.
The modelling and sculpturing person very intensively experiences their physics and capacity to act. Kneading and modelling is exertion equivalent to physical labour. Material is moved and warmth emerges, pleasure and richness of life can be sensed. Already in observing involuntarily soul gestures of sculptured human forms or animals are physically empathised: considering the soft passing upright of a female watercarrier, the gravity of a sleeping animal, the rhythmical sweeps of flowing water. If one is modelling oneself, soul-full empathy with the acting hand has to be accomplished, in order to bestow a lively swaying indentation in the cold, unformed clay. If this is successfully done the clay becomes warm and ductile, the sculptor is supplied with blood up to the tips of their fingers. An energetic sense of self is concentrated with all its soul perception to the conformation and gestalt of the sculpture. The head is clearing and is linked to the concrete actual moment.
The ductile material easily resists force and incensement, being moved all over and anew and reshaped constantly. But also smallest forms are inwardly generated by handwork, warm and guarded by both hands. Claying children create entire landscapes, ships, animal groups and clusters of persons, being played with and restructured. Then again in wet, mellow clay the hands are burrowed and relished as basal sensation.
Examples of Exercises
Therapeutic modelling and sculpturing are suitable for children and adults. The incarnating effects of modelling are especially noticeable in the case of needed easing, trepidation and agitation. With children and adolescents influence on steps of development can be induced and supported. Additionally to talk therapy, therapeutic modelling and sculpturing can be exhilarant and subsidiary. As for psychosomatic as well as psychiatric diseases the experience and self-esteem of physicalness in the process of modelling and sculpturing can be pleasant and strengthening for conception, feeling and action.
Structuring, stimulation of formative potency, regulation by:
Platonic polyhedra, ball, smoothed surfaces, huge sculptures, tracery motives in embossment
Light and lightness inspired by:
Upright sculptures e.g. human body, vessels
Properties of soul gestures explored by:
Formation of animals of any sort and gesture, groups of human figures, groups of animals
Gravity, settling down by:
Sleeping animal forms, jars, copying of Barlach, Moore, Michelangelo
Movement, transformation by:
Rows of metamorphosis, flowforms in embossment
Clay can be deployed in manifold ways. The process can be limiting, lightening, structuring and formative or stimulating, moving, and dynamic-imaginative. In concretion sculptures come into existence which in their quality show symmetric order, rhythmic change or chaotic imaginative tendencies. Beeswax, stone and wood can be used over and above clay.
The experience of formative possibilities and capabilities often disburdens and strengthens the handling of biographic crises and disease. Indications and contraindications are derived beside clinical and psychotherapeutic diagnosis by art-therapeutic diagnosis. Willingness for artistic creation is a requirement of accomplishing modelling and sculpturing therapy. Contraindications would be unreadiness and if the client is too weak for active action. In the case of acute or posttraumatic stress disorder art therapy implied by an orderly trained person in this field can be useful and supporting. Positive experiences are on hand for the following clinical diagnoses:
- Psychic diseases
- Brain-organic diseases and neurological deficits
- Psychosomatic diseases
- Physical diseases
The four- and threefolded diagnosis takes in each disease a body-soul-spirit involvement in consideration
The Training as Anthroposophic Art Therapist is extra-occupational or full-time at private or state-approved universities, advanced technical colleges and training schools with varying basic approaches. In Switzerland the job profile is legally protected by an advanced governmental examination. In Germany and the Netherlands governmentally accredited B.Sc and M.Sc studies are offered. Most of the universities and colleges work on private business administration, with quality and standards being developed in self-administration. They can acquire accreditation by the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Sciences.
Specific methods of therapeutic modelling and sculpturing
There are a lot of possibilities and techniques in modelling and sculpturing having specific healing impacts. Some of them are intensively substantiated by long-term individual art therapists’ experiences and became established as specific methods. Please send descriptions of methods of therapeutic painting and drawing. Presentations of these methods on this site are welcome
about therapeutic modelling and sculpturing at the Community Hospital Havelhöhe in Berlin with Peter Bläsi