Over the years of working in the field of developmental delay and sensory processing difficulties, we have witnessed many children struggle to make sense of their emotional world alongside their struggles to create an effective response in their central nervous system.
Since tactile exploration is a natural media for occupational therapists it was not difficult to find that this particular mode of therapy was a very good fit for us at ATA.
Play is the work of children. When the child chooses 10 or 12 characters from an array of over 1000 characters, you simply know that their choices have meaning for them. Witnessing their process as they create and re-create stories has been amazing process. Children with developmental delay generally do not want to discuss their emotions, but prefer to play them out. Sandplay therapy has provided us with an avenue to understand our children more fully, and to improve our intervention planning as we have a better understanding about where they are in their own perception of the intervention. Sandplay therapy reminds us that the child is experiencing emotions through every therapeutic experience we provide and we need to respect these emotional adaptations just as much as their sensory adaptations. Through Sandplay we are able to elicit the child’s beauty from within.
Why use Sandplay Therapy?
- Gives expression to non-verbalized emotional issues. Play is the language of children and the sand tray provides a safe medium for expression, free from judgment.
- Has a kinesthetic quality. Sand has a sensory quality and the experience of touching and manipulating the sand can be therapeutic in and of itself.
- The therapeutic distance can allow the client to have a safe place to work through and process their experiences.
- Provides a setting for the emergence of therapeutic metaphors.
- Provides a needed and effective communication medium for the client with poor verbal skills. Beyond developmental reasons, there are clients of all ages who may have poor verbal skills for a variety of reasons. When unable to effectively communicate needs, it can create a great level of frustration. In Sandplay therapy expression of needs is not dependent upon words.
- Provides a place for the client to experience control.
At ATA we use Sandplay in a variety of different ways:
- As a therapy of it’s own, designed to support emotional processing
- As a “check-in” in-between different therapy intensives
- Can be used as a compliment to OT and SLP services during trying and difficult times
- Depending on the client, as a compliment to Tomatis Sound Training.
- Sandplay is never forced and frequently used as a choice during DIR/Floortime sessions.
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