Children are often anxious about seeing a therapist, however when they walk into my room they usually can't wait to get started. As my work includes Sandplay therapy the walls of my clinic shelve hundreds of miniature figurines. The figurines are of people, animals, nature, home life, buildings, mythological and fantastical creatures, symbols and so on.
It is often difficult and uncomfortable for children to sit and talk with an adult about themselves, however working with tools such as Sandplay, art, puppets etc, children are relaxed and more able to express and transform their troubles.
Sandplay gives children a powerful tool that allows them to process deep emotions that they otherwise feel unable to deal with. They find a freedom within the safe boundaries of the Sandtray in which they can express themselves without fear of wrong doing or judgement. Sandplay allows children to play out their issues through the figurines in the sandtray, often speaking through the characters in the tray. However, even though many children will talk during the Sandplay process, or tell me about the Sandplay afterwards, talking is not necessary. The process of creating the Sandplay has a deep and healing affect on the child without the need for words.
"The sand picture which is produced by the child can be understood as a three-dimensional representation of some aspect of his psychic situation. An unconscious problem is played out in the sandbox, just like a drama; the conflict is transposed from the inner world to the outer world and made visible. This game of fantasy influences the dynamics of the unconscious in the child and thus affects his psyche". -Dora Kalff
Children often have difficulty identifying their emotions and behaviours let alone controlling them. Sandplay allows children to express what they may not be able to express in their day to day lives. It gives them a safe and bounded space in which they can play out deep emotional and psychological issues without judgement and in a non-confrontational manner, which in and of itself is a very healing experience. Children will gain confidence and a feeling of inner strength as they create what they choose to, without direction or outside interference. They will learn to identify the emotions that they are feeling and learn that they have the capacity for self-regulation.
It is difficult for anyone to express and heal from traumatic experiences. For children it is especially difficult and they need ways that are seemingly indirect and non-confrontational. Sandplay is a wonderful tool for this purpose. The children are supported by the therapist within a safe, non-judgemental environment. The myriad of miniature figurines that the children can choose from gives them a sense of creativity and freedom whilst also feeling safe, because the scene is created within the boundaries of the Sandtray. It is marvellous for children to find a means to express and validate what they have often hidden within themselves. With the guidance and loving support of the therapist they can begin to integrate and heal from their experiences.
Autism / On the Spectrum
Sandplay can be a marvellous tool for children with many forms of autism. Sandplay helps children with communication however they do not need to communicate initially in order for it to work its magic! Some children will feel a little overwhelmed when first they see all the figurines on the shelves, however when I show them the Sandtray, and explain that it is the safe container in which they can place the figures, they feel happy and and safe and able to proceed. Through their play in the Sandtray they are able to explore and express the tensions that they face in life and integrate them in a way they have previously been unable to do.
In a world where children have little time and space for themselves without distraction, Sandplay gives them a wonderful gift. Here at Inner Room Counselling they can use their imagination in a supportive space that is just for them. Here they have my undivided attention and can explore their inner dimensions within a safe and nurturing environment. This allows children to understand, process and navigate through the difficulties and problems they face at school, at home, and within themselves. They build self esteem and knowledge of themselves and their inner resources.
What to expect...
A 60 minute consultation with a parent or guardian is usually the first step. This consultation will give me some insight into the issues that are concerning you in regards to your child. For children 5-12 years of age a session usually runs for 45 minutes, however all children are different and some children will benefit from a 60 minute session.
Generally, after our initial meeting, I suggest that I meet with your child for three sessions and then discuss with you the approach we should take, if more sessions are required. I will offer techniques and responses to help you navigate through difficult times and also ask that you inform me of any uncharacteristic behaviours that occur between sessions.
If you have any further questions please contact me.