Why Work Creatively?
I love working therapeutically with children and there are many benefits of working creatively with them. Creative art therapies offer a non-intrusive way of working with and engaging children and young people who are experiencing difficult times.
Usually, children that I work with don’t feel like they are coming to therapy because, they are playing using a variety of mediums, such as paint, clay, drawing and sand trays. This way of working allows children to express whatever is going on for them in a safe and contained way. It makes what is unconscious conscious.
Why Use Sand Trays?
This non-verbal nature of Sand-tray therapy and the familiar medium of sand can help children achieve feelings of comfort and security. It provides that necessary safe space to explore what’s really going on. The shape of the sand tray creates a physical and emotional boundary. These are important because while the therapy allows the child to feel in control. With support, yet little instruction or direction from me, the child is free to play and develop his or her own expression of situations.
This means that they can resolve their own difficulties through practice and role play. Working with sand trays are very popular with children, adolescents and adults. Sand has a unique kinaesthetic sensory quality about it. Its texture is soothing and grounding for whoever touches it. It also provides a way to communicate when verbalising emotions are too difficult, particularly in cases of trauma, neglect or abuse. Often children are unable to understand and articulate what might be going on, and sand trays provide a medium through which to communicate when words are hard to find.
Unlike talking therapies, the pressure to use language does not exist. Figurines are used as a way of communicating, there is no pressure to use language and articulate what is happening or has happened. The therapeutic process is created naturally, the therapy is the process of creating a scene a story and their interpretation of it rather than mine.
It is their understanding that is important.
Sand Tray Therapy is particularly helpful in the treatment of children who have been sexually abused. Children that have experienced this will often remain silent with the intention of keeping themselves safe. They often feel threatened and anxious when they first come to therapy. I find that the relaxed and interactive setting of working with sand provides them with the initial arena of safety that they need to move forward in healing.