Sensorimotor Art Therapy & Counselling

old pastel sticksWhat is Creative Arts Therapy? and What is Sensorimotor Art Therapy?

When I am asked this question my short answer is that it is counselling using the creative arts as a modality.  There is art as therapy and art psychotherapy including sensorimotor art therapy.

Art as Therapy provides a safe and supportive space to explore art for art’s sake.  This is a space where you engage in the creative process. NO ART EXPERIENCE is needed however different skills and techniques may be introduced to facilitate making art.   Engaging in creativity in this way can aid recovery as it helps you to express yourself, focus, relax, connect with other people and at times share your story.

Sensorimotor Art Therapy centralises the wisdom of the body in therapy. Building on mainstream theoretical approaches within psychotherapy and mental health and integrating art mediums of paints, pastels, crayons and clay allows access, expression and healing bringing deeper experiences of a sense of self.  Guided drawing and Work at the Clayfield are two approaches of sensorimotor art therapy.

“The body remembers.  It remembers its injuries and traumas, but it also remembers its needs, its instinct to survive and to heal” (Elbrecht & Antcliff, 2013). Sensorimotor art therapy is art psychotherapy.

Sensorimotor Art Psychotherapy uses the creative process of making art as a safe way to express your inner experiences, to develop new awareness, to support and explore strategies for personal change.

Sensorimotor Art psychotherapy uses the materials of the visual arts such as paint, clay, pastels, crayons, collage as well as visualisation techniques, guided imagery, movement and role play.   This can help you to express the inexpressible, cope with difficulties and stress, facilitate your recovery and explore new ways of being.  As the therapist Liz offers a safe supportive space to allow you to explore and process your issues and inner experiences and to seek your unique meanings and resolutions.  Art psychotherapy can be an adjunctive therapy to other forms of psychotherapy or counselling as well as the primary mode of therapy.

Currently Sensorimotor art psychotherapy is offered as individual sessions with Liz by appointment.

Liz draws upon somatic experiencing, art therapy and trauma therapy in working with each individual to tailor each session to the clients needs and focus.  Art psychotherapy with Liz is unique in that the focus is not solely on the visual aspects of art therapy rather also paying attention to the significance of our felt sense, experiences within our bodies in addition to feelings, thoughts and our everyday experiences.

Psychodynamic, Gestalt, Humanistic, Transpersonal, Process oriented, sensory motor experiencing (somatic experiencing), narrative and Cognitive Theories all underpin Arts Therapy.  Ongoing research and clinical application continues to inform the practice of Creative Arts  and sensorimotor Arts Therapy.


Creative Arts therapy is not as much about making art as it is about creative expression and making or discovering  meaning. Sensorimotor art therapy is as much about what is produced with paints and clay as it is about what happens when paint and pastels and clay are used as mediums of expression.

What happens in Creative Arts Therapy sessions?

This depends on whether the session is a one on one session or a group session.

The Heartspace Artspace is a facilitated group session based on the principles and processes of creative arts therapy.  Group sessions are always facilitated by a professional therapist, that as a group of participants we enter into a contract with each other on how the group functions and is conducted.  Privacy and confidentiality of the group processes and of the individual participants and their creations are paramount.  Creating a safe environment and space in which to “do” creative expression is both the responsibility of the facilitator and of the participants.  Each session of the group goes for 2 hours. There are currently no Heatspace Artspace groups in progress.

soul workIndividual Face to face Sessions are  approx 50 – 75 mins in duration.

Like other therapeutic approaches how you feel  about the process and about working with Liz is important.  This initial session may take a longer than subsequent sessions for this reason.  Pastels, drawing, modelling with plasticine or clay may be some of the resources that would be drawn upon at this first appointment.  IMPORTANTLY  what is offered in any creative arts therapy or sensorimotor art therapy session is just that an offering, a suggestion and you as the client decide whether you would be comfortable with that medium.  There will be some talking, could be some drawing, some painting, some clay work, use of plasticine or some collage, some use of movement and rhythm, use of writing  and journalling. And within the process you may be drawn to explore what you are noticing that is present in your interior landscape. This could be called knowing about your felt sense.  Not all of these mediums would be used in one or even any session nor would they be suitable for everyone.

Liz also offers individual sessions in talking therapy  “counselling” and in Somatic Experiencing.

As a professional therapist notes are made either during the session or at the conclusion of the session which are kept as a confidential and secure record of our time together.  Taking notes assists Liz in the process of your sessions.  Please ask Liz any questions about this if you have any concerns.    You will be asked to sign a consent form at the commencement of the  therapeutic relationship.

What about if I have never used art materials before?


This is important for art therapy is not about  art classes or teaching art techniques.  However, to facilitate using art materials Liz will be able to share with you her knowledge of the resources and materials such as paints, clay, brushes, inks, collage materials and glues, pastels and pencils etc.  The aim is that you will learn to trust that how you express yourself creatively is unique to you and is very much an expression of your inner landscape.

The Clay Field ®

A Sensorimotor Art Therapy approach.

Sensorimotor approaches to art therapy centralises the wisdom of the body in therapy.

Work at the Clay Field is one sensorimotor art therapy approach which accesses the wisdom of the body which can be beneficial in therapy for recovery from, childhood experiences of abuse, trauma as well as states relating to anxiety, depression and stress. Increasingly working with the wisdom of the body or the bottom up approach is considered “gold standard”* in resolving trauma. Work at the clayfield may also benefit children with developmental challenges, ADHD and trauma. Work at the Clay Field is an intricate interaction between human neurobiology and expressions of lived experiences. This unique art therapy process provides opportunity for healing of attachment and developmental trauma.** German art therapist Professor Heinz Deuser developed this approach over the past 40 years.

06102011521“The Clay Field is a flat rectangular wooden box that holds 10 – 15 kg of clay. A bowl of water is supplied. This simple setting offers a symbolic “world” for the hands to explore. There will be no art work to be taken home.”

Elbrecht (2012).***

IMAG0109With eyes closed through the sense of touch, the hands interact with clay: digging, penetrating, smoothing, caressing, building and pushing. A bowl of warm water is supplied and the hands are encouraged to move in the clay. There is no object to create, no expectations to make something just simple to follow the innate promptings of the hands. This unique interaction between the sense of touch with the clay and the hand brain connection that stimulates an instant feedback loop. Here the hands are used as a tool of perception and this is known as haptic perception.**** Our hands provide a way in which our body can tell the story of what has happened and importantly what now needs to happen for recovery and healing.

Whatever therapy is undertaken, the approach must be able to address three dimensions of human experience, our thinking, our emotions feelings and our sensory experiences ( Ogden, Minton & Pain, 2006: Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy). Work at the clay field is one therapeutic approach that allows the body to speak which can give rise to insights that can profoundly aid in healing.

What happens in a session at the Clay field?

The session duration is approximately 50 mins to one hour in duration. Accompanied by Liz as therapist, you are gently encourage to become aware of and to allow your hands to find your unique movements in the clay. Generally there is very little verbal interaction during the time however from time to time to assist you in the process Liz may enquire with gentle questioning, or responses. With confidence in the wisdom of the human body, Liz accompanies you through the process with your hands as your internal guide.

There may be if it is appropriate and desired some time towards to end of the session some speaking and exchange between yourself and Liz. However this is not necessarily needed nor sought.

How many sessions are required?

This is very much dependent on the individual and the circumstances of that individual. Please discuss this with Liz.

How much does a session at the Clayfield cost?

$120.00 per session

What can I do to prepare for a clay field session?

22042010715There are no special preparations however please come dressed in clothes that are appropriate for handling clay.

Liz has studied with Cornelia Elbrecht and has attended Master class with Professor Heinz Deuser. The work at the Clayfield is Professor Deuser life work and he continues to engage in both clinical applications and research in this unique therapy.

* ASCA:(2012) Adults Survivors of Child Abuse Practice Guidelines for treatment of complex trauma and trauma informed care and service delivery .

**Elbrecht and Antcliff (2015) Being in Touch: Healing developmental and attachment Trauma at the Clay field.

***Elbrecht (2012) Trauma healing at the Clayfield: A sensorimotor approach to art therapy.

****Grunwald (2008): Human haptic perception: Basics and application .

There are a limited number of on line counselling appointments available.  Please contact Liz on or phone 0438163255

Costs of sessions are $120.00

Other Questions?

If you would like to know more then please contact Liz

  • phone:             0438 163 255
  • email :             via our CONTACT page
  • explore:           This website further
  • come along:    To a Heartspace Artspace program and see for yourself….

Costs of Creative Arts Therapy?

Individual Sessions:
Maleny on Sunshine Coast:   $120.00 per session

Payment is appreciated at the time of appointment/ session.

Payment can be made by direct deposit, cash or by Square.

Thank you.

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