What Is Sandplay Therapy?
Sandplay therapy is a nonverbal, therapeutic intervention that makes use of a sandbox, toy figures, and sometimes water, to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect a person’s inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns. This form of play therapy is practiced along with talk therapy, using the sandbox and figures as communication tools.
When It’s Used
Sandplay therapy is often used with those who have suffered some form of trauma, neglect, or abuse. Although sandplay is especially well suited for working with young children, who often cannot express their inner feelings in words, it is also a technique that is helpful for some teens and adults who are having trouble expressing themselves and who may have suffered some form of severe trauma.
What To Expect
Sandplay therapy takes place in box-like containers referred to as sand trays. The trays are filled with sand that clients use, along with miniature toys, to create a play world that reflects some aspect of real people and real experiences in their own lives. The student chooses from a large collection of toys and builds a small “world” in the tray that reflects what is going on in their lives. The therapist observes the choice and arrangement of toys without interruption, allowing the person to find answers within themselves. After sandplay is completed, the student and teacher analyze and discuss the client’s toy choices, their arrangement pattern in the sand, and their symbolic or metaphoric meanings. Upon discussion, the student often chooses to make changes to the world they have created in sand. Sandplay therapy may consist of a single session or last as long as several years.
How It Works
Sandplay therapy was developed in the late 1950s by psychologist Dora Kalff, who combined several techniques and philosophies to come up with her own therapeutic approach. Kalff learned what became known as the World Technique from pediatrician and child psychologist Margaret Lowenfeld, who developed the original sand-tray intervention. Kalff incorporated the use of sand trays into her own form of therapy, which was based on her Jungian training and Eastern philosophical beliefs. With the help of sand trays, clients, guided by the therapist, begins to understand the connection between the world they created in sand and their own inner world. By making changes in their make-believe world, clients are often empowered to make similar changes in their real world. Today, some therapists,teachers and counselors choose to modify Kalff’s parameters for sandplay and incorporate a similar technique into their own therapeutic process.
WATER PLAY THERAPY
The Benefits Of Water Play For Children
Balance And Strength
Though it might look like your child is just splashing around, water play can help improve children’s balance and strength. Playing in water is like playing in a brand new playground where even the simplest activities, like clapping your hands or jumping, are a whole new sensory experience. Children can experiment without worrying about falling or crashing into hard surfaces. Water also adds resistance so water play activities work as strength training. It takes more muscle strength to move arms and legs through water then it does through air.
Communication And Social Skills
Water play allows children to explore and interact with each other. New experiences and discovering new things within shared spaces offer a great opportunity for social development. As children play, they will be excited to communicate their discoveries to everyone around them. This is a confidence booster for kids! Because water play typically occurs in a limited space with few supplies, children practice sharing with each other and working together while engaging in play. There are many opportunities for communication development and social growth during water play!
Exploration And Learning
Bodies of water offer endless opportunity for physical experiments and discoveries. Children may have already investigated wood, dirt, sand, rocks, and other dry substances. But what happens when these substances are mixed, sifted or dropped with water?
Children also get the opportunity to think about concepts like water displacement and volume as they explore in a body of water. Water supports a variety of life forms like fish and frogs, so water play can lead to new biological adventures as well!
Why Play In Therapy?
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. The curative powers inherent in play are used in many ways. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings.
In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language. Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits.
The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions can provide a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing. Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child.
Storytelling is at the core of the human experience. Personal stories are what ground us; they give us a sense of purpose and identity. Storytelling helps children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) master language skills, improve listening skills, increase attention span, develop curiosity and creativity.