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Creative Play & Sand


Play is an innate part of child and human development. It extends beyond emotional and social satisfaction and supports the overall growth and development of people. As a result, it makes perfect sense that play has a meaningful and practical role in therapy. In this instance, we learned about, practiced, and reflected on the power of sand play therapy.

The exercise started in our homes as we engaged in a creative process. For me, this process was graphic design. In conversation with my peers, I am aware that the focus on a computer made my creative process different in some ways and similar in other ways. For example, we all felt a feeling of timelessness. I however did not feel some of the physical relief and relaxation as my peers.

Next, the exercise encouraged us to find a small memento that was important to us. This had a unique impact on me. I am a minimalist. I throw a lot of things away. However, I noticed that the things that would help me in this exercise are the things I placed importance in. I had a hard time narrowing down my selection. Each item told a story. I learned that that was the criteria that lead me to keep these items in the first place. In the end, I selected a small wire animal photo frame that I purchased from a homeless man after a long day of adventure in San Francisco. To me, it reminds me of the joy I can feel when I am experiencing the flow of true play. In addition, it demonstrates to me that creativity does not have a price. No monetary value can make a person creative and that was truly inspiring to me. It is likely that this is the reason children place such importance on toys and transition items that mean nothing to the world around them. To that child, that blanket tells a story of comfort.

Prior to the conversation on sand play therapy, I had little to know base knowledge in the field. We discussed its cross disciplinary applications and learned the basics of facilitating a sand play therapy session. It’s application in child life is obvious, but when we extend into education and even into educational development and training, it’s applications are a bit more elusive.

After learning about the process, we had the opportunity to experience it from both sides of the equations. In the traditional timeline of play, I felt a strong sense of anticipation for this activity. However, the anticipation was much different than the anticipation I experienced before playing sticker tag or hot potato. Throughout the process I was reminded of the power of items and the stories that they tell. Again, we used items that tell a story to represent our story. This process was heavily inspired by the depth of our childhood and our developmental years. Had we never experienced Toy Story, it would be incredibly unlikely that we would choose Buzz Lightyear to enter our world. In an abstract way, this observation helped solidify the ways our adult life is shaped by our childhood. We have no reservations or objections to the thought of representing our life with army-men, cars, and dinosaurs.

As we embarked on the journey from beginning to end, Sand Play therapy demonstrated its vastly diverse applications. I immediately saw the opportunity to use Sand Play as a way to resolve work place frustrations or to address creativity blocks. My future involves supporting teams of adults to create a world that best supports the development of young people. It is fundamental to the futures of the young people that the adults I work with are inspired by youthfulness. I am confident sand play has a place in my future tool box and I am looking forward to using it to enhance my future academic and professional careers.


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© 2016 by Morgan Belveal. 

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