The Exceptional Artist: The Use of the Third Hand with Clay Work in Art Therapy

by Brandon Murdoch

My topic explores the possibilities and experiences clay work offers to the exceptional child. I investigate the relationship of learned helplessness to the use of the third hand in the art making process. The social stigma associated with exceptional children is discussed, along with a brief history and issues frequently associated with this population. Literature covering research and techniques on the benefits and goals of art making with exceptional individuals are addressed. I utilize psychodynamic and humanistic theories in my treatment approach and use a retrospective analysis with phenomenological and qualitative methods for my evaluation. I conclude that the use of the third hand in combination with clay as the medium of choice with the exceptional child allows for sublimation and the increase in self-esteem.