Pottery wheel teaches value of slowing our minds and bodies

Even the smallest of items can bring about big learning opportunities for individuals receiving care at Rogers Behavioral Health. This was made evident recently when the experiential therapy team approached Rogers Foundation to request funds to purchase a pottery wheel.

While the pottery wheel may have been built to create an object out of clay, it’s purpose at Rogers goes much deeper than to simply design a pretty vase. Here, the pottery wheel is used to encourage patience, teach distress tolerance, provide exposure to “contaminants” (clay), offer uncertainty of how the product will turn out, and show people how to play within safe creative risks.

As Michelle Bourdo, art therapist, explains:

When I notice a patient moving quickly on the pottery wheel, I may point out that they appear to be making a pot for the sake of making a pot. Instead, I instruct them to think less about the outcome of the product and more about slowing down and taking time to observe their feelings and thoughts. They learn that patience while learning a new tool and thoughtful intention will influence the outcome of the product.

Often times, children diagnosed with OCD, anxiety, or depression talk about how “satisfying” it is to work on the wheel. They enjoy the circular movements and are aware of how easily they can influence the clay.

I recently had a patient on the wheel who was using it very quickly, despite my encouragement to slow down. This led to the pot flopping over. I paused and waited for her response. The patient said, ‘Well, I guess I have to work with what I have. I am going to keep going and see what I can do.’ This led to a great conversation about how in life, there are so many unpredictable moments that we need to move through and work with what we have.

The Foundation is thankful for donor support of the Angel Fund program, which makes additional learning opportunities like this possible. Thanks to grateful friends and families, individuals at Rogers have a new tool for personal growth and recovery.

You can help make new opportuities for recovery possible by making a gift to the Angel Fund program!