A child’s language is not with words, but with play. They process their internal world and external environment through play and other expressive means like art. One of the reason’s that play therapy is so effective is because it provides a safe place for a child to process difficult things without having to explicitly name it. They can essentially externalize, or (place out side of their self) what they are going through, by projecting it onto art or with characters in the sand tray. Research tells us that the part of the brain that processes memory and emotion is the same part of our brain that is used when we express ourselves creatively. Therefore, by finding creative expressions of our experiences we can access the part of our brain involved in memory and emotion and help that part to be fully expressed. With full expression of emotional experiences and impacts, these events do not have as much power in how the body, heart and mind function.
Sand tray therapy and art therapy are the two forms of play therapy most commonly used at Repose. The sand tray creates a safe, external place for children and sometimes adults to explore their feelings, beliefs and expectations, as well as getting in touch with their deeper unmet yearnings. Art is a medium that also allows for exploration of these things in a different more abstract way. Both mediums allow for the opportunity to start to explore other options for coping and thriving in life, and for meeting attachment needs in new ways.