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A Study on the Symbols and Themes of Sandplay Therapy for Children of Myanmar Refugees living in Malaysia

  • Journal of Symbols & Sandplay Therapy
  • Abbr : JSST
  • 2021, 12(1), pp.51-110
  • Publisher : Korean Society for Sandplay Therapy
  • Research Area : Social Science > Psychological Science > Counseling Psychology / Psychotherapy
  • Received : March 30, 2021
  • Accepted : July 1, 2021
  • Published : June 30, 2021

Hyeyoung Kim 1 Eunjin Cho 1 Jang Mi Kyung 2

1남서울대학교대학원 아동복지학과
2남서울대학교대학원 아동복지학과 교수

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study categorized and analyzed the themes and symbols that appeared in the sandplay therapy of Myanmar Chin children living as refugees in Malaysia. The researchers provided individual sandplay therapy to five children attending a UN refugee school in Malaysia for four weeks in July 2018. There were five sessions for each child and 50 minutes per session. The researchers used a Kalffian sandplay approach to provide a free and protected space for the children. They used Creswell’s (2007) qualitative case study method to understand the themes and symbols and, through a comprehensive analysis of all cases, they found five common themes and symbols. These themes were ‘fear/threat and the resistance from the heart to it’, ‘protection and care’, ‘the existence of god and guilty feelings’, ‘the effort to recover normal life’, and ‘do not give up hope for a normal life’. The refugee children expressed their emotional pain in the sand tray so that the traumas they had experienced while escaping and the chaos in their present lives appeared prominently and repeatedly there. As the sessions progressed, however, they expressed a hope to return to their normal lives as they recovered some sense of stability. They could more easily express their inner pain in sandplay than in language, and project themselves safely and express their emotions. It is a fact that, like all other children, the innate and archetypal healing powers of these refugee children’s psyche allowed them to respond strongly to sandplay, despite the short-term therapeutic intervention, the horrors of their experiences and the unstable situations they face. Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of a psychotherapeutic approach that considers the social and cultural specificity of refugee children and their various emotional problems and secure economic aid and legal status for them.

Citation status

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