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Healing Trauma: Emotional Transformation through Sand Play Therapy

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 16 June 2014

These recorded lectures are available to be viewed for a small fee at Owl Talks Lectures.

A Place of Healing: Finding Sanctuary in the Free and Protective Space of the Sandtray

Karen Daniel

An invaluable tool for therapists working with traumatised clients is understanding the natural healing process activated by  sandplay in the presence of a skilled sandplay therapist:  “… deep in the unconscious there is an autonomous tendency, given the proper conditions, for the psyche to heal itself”.

This presentation spoke to how sandplay awakens and regulates the right-brain limbic processes, making it a powerful way to address painful, fearful, dissociated experiences.  It also briefly engaged discussion on how sandplay can be part of self-care for therapists working in a minefield of high burn-out and potential to suffer vicarious trauma. How all this comes together and supports our work of healing and transforming trauma was the primary focus of this talk.

Utilising Sandplay in Treating the Impact of Refugee Trauma: A Case Study of an Iraqi Boy

Sanja Stefanovic

Most children from refugee backgrounds and their families have survived multiple traumatic events that had a negative impact on the children’s development and their psychological welbeing. Assisting the child’s recovery and addressing the traumatic memories can be challenging for the therapist due to the child’s still developing cognitive and verbal abilities, and the implicit nature of traumatic memories. The use of non-verbal techniques is often required. Sandplay therapy engages children in symbolic play in a free and protected space. Through the use of the sand tray and a selection of figurines, in the presence of a therapist, the child is able to process traumatic material at their own pace, in a way that is congruent with their developmental stage. The case of an 8 year old Iraqi boy was used to demonstrate Sandplay therapy at STARTTS. Sanja outlined the rationale for this approach, the process of sandplay with this child and the therapeutic outcomes.

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