Sandtray therapy helps promote communication


By JAYAGANDI JAYARAJPhotos by KEVIN TAN

SOMETIMES when communication becomes difficult due to stress, sandtray therapy can be an effective communication method.It is an alternative to “talk” therapy and uses communication tools to promote change.  

It is an expressive and dynamic play process that is used by children, adolescents, individual adults, couples, families and groups in the presence of a trained sandtray therapist.  

Sum (left) and Ng explaining how sandtray therapy works.

This treatment uses a tray filled with sand and miniature figurines or toys. Using the toys, the patient is then asked by the therapist to create a picture or a scene on the tray that could facilitate the resolution of conflict.  

The general or specific groups that are interested in the therapy can now learn more about it in an upcoming Play and Sandtray Therapy for Stressful Children and Families workshop.  

Two-day workshops held over three weekends beginning July 30 is organised by Agape Counselling Centre Malaysia and Play & EXpressive Arts with Kiwanis Club of Taman Sentosa Johor Bahru as the co-organiser.  

The first workshop on July 30 and 31 will focus on child psychopathology and play therapy and group play therapy and family play therapy.  

Workshop two on the following weekend will centre on sandtary therapy for special population group.  

For the third workshop, participants could choose either August 1 or 8 for participation. Professional play therapy supervision will be the focus of the session.  

The workshop trainers will be Dr Linda Homeyer and Dr Daniel Sweeney.  

Homeyer is an associate professor at the San Marcos University in Texas and had helped organise the first state branch of the Associa-tion for Play therapy in Texas.  

Sweeney is an associate professor of counselling and director of the NW Centre for Play Therapy Studies at the George Fox University in Portland, Oregan.  

He is currently a board member of Associa-tion for Play Therapy and has authored and co-authored several books on the subject.  

Play & Expressive Arts therapist Andrew Ng said the therapy was a good way to communicate as there was no eye contact involved between the therapist and client.  

He said with that way they could maintain a psychological distance that is comfortable for the client.  

“The client would be able to feel comfortable without being defensive. Communication would be through the sand and figurines to symbolise problems and emotions,” said Ng during an interview.  

With him at the interview was Agape counselling play therapy department director Lisa Sum.  

Sum said the sandtray therapy should be practised at all school level, especially with younger students to tackle behavioural problem at root level.  

“Early prevention is better than cure and in this case, the therapy helps teachers, caregivers and guardians to address problems at when the person is young. 

“Children are very resilient and obedient compared to adults and with the right care, things can be put right sooner,” said Sum, adding that therapy at school level can reduce social problems among young adults.  

For more details, call 03-7785 4833 and 012-361 8596. 

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