The Development of Sandplay Therapy Treatment for Prolonged and Complex Trauma Related to War and Terrorism in the Middle East

Authored by: Bert Meltzer , Rina Porat

The Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138101692
eBook ISBN: 9781315656748
Adobe ISBN: 9781317325970

10.4324/9781315656748.ch11

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Abstract

In the early 1980s when we first began to use Sandplay therapy in Israel, one of our first observations was that our Israeli child and adolescent clients preferred different objects, and behaved differently in their participation in the Sandplay process from Dora Kalff’s (1980/2003) polite and well-behaved upper middle class Swiss children we had read about, heard about, and observed in case presentations. The Israeli children were far more chaotic, and seemed more inclined to choose soldiers, warriors, and monsters to create scenes of conflict and conquest, in sharp contrast to the pastoral scenes of their Swiss counterparts. The collective climate of Israel, with its history of continuous war and conflicts, has created a collective psychological environment with relatively high levels of anxiety and aggression. These found ready expression through sand tray images. What was striking was how very suitable Sandplay therapy was as a tool for psychological treatment and healing in coping with extremes of anxiety and fear, as it was for aiding the less dramatic problems of more normal development (Porat & Meltzer, 1992). The Sandplay therapy process, with its emphasis on the psyche’s self-regulatory function to determine the content, structure, and dynamics of a sand tray scene, along with the effectiveness of creating “a free and protected space” (Kalff, 1980/2003) seemed to be a tool with unlimited potential to deal with a wide range of stresses.

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