Images of Resiliency: Troubled Children Create Healing Stories in the Language of Sandplay

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9780966235708: Images of Resiliency: Troubled Children Create Healing Stories in the Language of Sandplay

This is a story of hope and resilience about and by boys labeled by society as hopeless and "bad". The message of this story is that, given a means such a sandplay with which to reach into their imagination, children who have been damaged by violence, poverty, and racism can find valuable strengths and resilient qualities within.

Sandplay is used as both a therapeutic modality and as the child's primary means of communication. The choice of figures, their placement and movement through the trays and the statements that sometimes accompany this action are used in place of standard verbal responses to explore and convey the troubled child's experiences and self-generated resilient solutions.

The stories of four boys in a residential treatment setting, two from African-American and two from Hispanic families, are presented to express the particular resiliency qualities of Social Competency, Problem-Solving Ability, Autonomy and a Sense of Purpose and Future. Fifty-six color photographs of sand tray scenes and extensive quotations of their verbal commentary illustrate the "myths" these boys create. Jungian symbolic interpretations, adapted to the imaginative reality of inner-city children of color, amplify the meaning of the stories.

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About the Author:

I have been working professionally with children and families since 1983. I am a licensed psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, and registered Play Therapist -Supervisor. I have published articles on the use of play and sandplay therapy with culturally diverse populations in CHILD WELFARE and The Journal of Sandplay Therapy. I train and supervise students and volunteers to provide a client-centered group model which makes play and sandplay therapy available at no cost to children in schools, shelters, hospitals, and other community settings.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"Sandplay provides a language that is active yet safe, silent yet resonant. It can make the mysterious and unspeakable vividly visible and understandable. Sandplay, like story and the arts, provides the language of a country where fantasy and reality meet, where metaphor and image rule over fact and word."

"Many children are now living between a 'rock and a hard place' with the world speeding by on the information superhighway and taking notice only when the rocks pile up too high to get past. Through sandplay we can show that there are flowers that grow in these rocky places, in the imagination of children, and they are beautiful."

"What their spirit can believe in and their mind can imagine, their body can express through creative play. What they express becomes their story, a blueprint of positive images which can be "seen" both internally and externally and held as a visual affirmation to guide their future development."

"We look at the series of sandplay pictures done by these emotionally disturbed boys as a story each is telling, a myth of a unique yet universal heroic journey. As we follow their path we see them express in action and images the traumas that brought them into treatment and release the wounds that dis-abled them. We observe the meetings that occur as they travel: with the monsters and devouring animals of their shadows, with the helpful and wise characters of their resiliency, with the masculine images of their strengthening egos, and the feminine images of the mother archetype and the anima. We follow them home as they begin to integrate the opposites they have encountered, and discover the treasure of the spirit within." "Describing the sandplay stories they have created is a way of giving a voice to the non-verbal experience and inner wisdom of troubled children." " In a very real way, sandplay allows you to see your feelings and touch your thoughts".

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