Thesis Title

Stories Unearthed: Clay therapy with Older Adults Using a Narrative Art Therapy Approach

Graduation Date

Spring 2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Maria Lang-Gavidia, MFT


This thesis study explores clay therapy as a therapeutic tool to older adults living in an assisted living facility (ALF) in the Bay Area. Specifically, this clay therapy project aimed to increase the older adult’s self-esteem and decrease depression. The project lasted a month and was designed as a short-term intervention for older adults living in independent living of an assisted living facility. This project was offered to all residents of the facility where there were three active participants and two non-active participants. The student researcher used a narrative therapy approach during the course of the project. The results did not support the hypothesis of this research study; however, found a benefit of clay therapy for enjoyment and socialization within the older adult population. This study contributes much needed research for the older adult population. Further research is needed to gain insight into clay therapy and its benefits and the older adult population’s ideas on age.