There are many experiences in life that effect our well-being. Some experiences have an emotional ripple that was created from childhood to our elderly lifespan. This ripple is also known as trauma. Trauma can have a dramatic impact on how we live our daily lives. The response to how a person handles trauma is how a person functions in life. Certain symptoms of trauma include anxiety, fear, isolation, anger, and denial. The book “Expressive and Creative Art Methods for Trauma Survivors” by Lois Carey and Judith Rubin explores the different methods therapist utilized to help children and adults who survived traumatic experiences. These methods include sand-play therapy, video play therapy, and puppetry interventions. Using these special therapies will allow the therapist to start healing the trauma victims and express feelings where sometimes words fail to represent hidden feelings.
Sand therapy is a distinctive method for children or adults who had been traumatized. It is thought that sand itself has healing qualities and was used in healing rituals long ago by the Navajo Native Americans. Sand is also thought to have a calming experience and is beneficial, as that it reconnects the individual back to the Earth.
The process of sand-play therapy when trauma is involved
When a child has their medical/psychological history taken, they’re show into a playroom. This playroom has two sandboxes; one filled with wet or dry sand. It also contains a collection of miniatures. The child can use one or both boxes and can create a scene using miniatures that are available. It is important for the first session that the client can set their own limits. The therapist in this case is just observing and tracking time. The therapist must also note the age difference is the sand-tray. For example, adults will leave the sand intact, but children will create a scene and act it out. If a therapist is dealing with a non-communicative or overly talkative patient, then it’s the therapist role to be direct. For the non-communicative clients, the therapist might partake in mutual storytelling. For, those who are more verbal the therapist might suggest “feeling” the clients way through the sand without talking. At the end of the session, it is crucial that client and therapist discuss what has been observed and that client can discuss what each scene represents. According to the book “Expressive and Creative Art Methods for Trauma Survivors”, it is said “the essence of sand-play was non-verbal and symbolic, and that when objects were placed in the sand they were able to contact each person’s unconscious process”
Puppetry has been used centuries ago in Europe and North American countries. It was recognized as entertainment for children, while it was more of a serious art form in Asian countries. The goal of puppetry when associated with trauma clients is to help them reach normalization of daily living, reactions and symptoms. Talking through puppets allows the clients to express their feelings and thoughts. Since most children are not able to easily verbalize an event, puppetry can help them express the event. It enhances a child’s sensory receptiveness. For example, it heightens the uses of visual and auditory senses. Referring to the book, there are four basics use of puppets “to allow children to regress to an earlier development stage. To express real and fantasy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with the fear of being judge or evaluated. As a role model for clients, and to increase communication.” (pg.183-184). The selection of the puppets is important for clients as well. Clients must be able to manipulate puppets easily as well as fit hands comfortably. Puppets should be washable or dry-cleanable. It is crucial not to have puppets with universal meaning, for example Santa Claus puppets because will not express their own story, only the stories associated around the character. Puppets can be finger or hand puppets. It can also represent a variety of different dynamics such as witch or wizard, angel or devil, or cute and cuddly. Puppetry is associated with fun. Most trauma clients find it easier to move around and discuss about events about others in the “there and then” stage. It focuses more on thought, rather than the feeling. Puppetry helps traumatized clients make the transition from symbolic play to talk therapy. This method or therapy is beneficial as it allows enhanced communication and encourages the clients to express their stories.
Video Play Therapy.
Video play therapy is a form of play therapy. “It is the process where clients and therapists discuss and play out themes and characters in films, which relate to the core issues of their therapy” (pg.193). This medium portrays the unconscious motivations and defense mechanisms better than any other media. Clients who are approaching adolescent’s years are increased risk to substance abuse, suicide attempts and delinquent behavior, so it critical that these individuals receive assistance early in their childhood. Video play therapy is used to enhance self-perception of the clients. It can also help clients gain insight within themselves and motivate changes. Universality of human suffering can also be understood through video play therapy. For example, a client was watching the movie The Lion King and was beginning to understand the all creatures experience suffering and grief. The therapist in this instance must meet several criteria when selecting videos for those who suffered from trauma. The videos must portray an effective or positive role model. The objective for the therapist is whether the clients can project themselves into the role model. It is important to match the content of the video to the client’s psychological issues and their client’s circumstances in age, socio-economic background, and subject matter. Therapist can choose videos that their clients can enjoy. Therapists can also choose videos which invoke inspiring moods. These films can help trauma victims experience a feeling of peace. This is a key element in video play therapy. Video therapy also involves other form of art other than dress-up. Clients may choose to draw, puppetry, or sand picture after viewing the film.