BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 11

Through his very limited play in the sand
tray and my questions Jim made his own
miniature funeral for his father. With this
ritual without words, he could begin to
let go of his expectations that his dad was
still alive and would come back to him. At
the moment of placing the flag on top of
the mound, Jim accepted the death of his
father. I later heard from his mother that
the aggression towards her and the step
dad had diminished.
For insecure children like Jim, there had
been a secure attachment that had been
established through good enough parenting (Winnicott, 2005). The temporary venture into an insecure state was therefore
relatively easy to reverse. However, for many
of the children in our schools diagnosed
with an attachment disorder, this insecure
attachment may have been with the child
from as early as the last trimester of their life
in the womb due to the stress of the mother.
I want to remind the reader that it is the
"use of self" (Satir, 1991) in the relationship
that you have with the child that makes
them feel safe, so that their seeking circuit
can move to the play circuitry. This therapeutic attachment or relationship of care
is central to healing and growing for the
child and invokes the same right brain-toright brain attunement as mother-to-child.
From the moment a child enters your office,
changes to the brain occur (Badenoch,
2008). As the therapeutic attachment relationship develops the child's brain activity
changes to reflect his or her deeper sense of
safety and connection. This lays the groundwork for the process of neural integration
and self-regulation. Schore (2012) proposes
that, just as the left-brain communicates its
states to others' left-brains via conscious
linguistic behaviors, the right-brain nonverbally communicates its unconscious states
to other right-brains tuned to receive these
When working with non-verbal children,
the use of the novel metaphor in the sand
tray to elicit safety is essential. Learn to be
comfortable with silences and take very
gentle guesses about the child's picture.
Bring the picture back to the child's body,
not to their head and their non-existent
words. Allow them to connect with their
breath, tears and sensations in their body.
If they cannot be in touch with their body,
articulate what your body is feeling. If you
BC Counsellor | Winter 2018 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com

By using the figurines in the
sand tray to access the nonverbal right brain embodied
novel metaphors. Hence,
we are able to bring the
child from a mobilized and/
or immobilized state into a
play or integrated state...
are attuned to them your body will be experiencing what they are experiencing even
though they are unable to articulate their
body sensations. Children love to play and
you as the counsellor can use their creativity and imagination to move them toward
safety in the sand tray, so they can experience themselves in a new and lasting way
of being in the world.
The research is now clear that counselling has more to do with the communication through our mind/body than through
the verbal language of the left hemisphere
(Schore, 2012). In order to access the mind/
body, sometimes referred to as the 'embodied mind,' expressive arts are employed to
great effect. A useful way of accessing the
embodied mind is through novel metaphor
(Schore, 2017). This use of non-verbal strategies is of particular value with children
who are non-verbal. They cannot tell you,
but they can show you what is going on
for them.
The use of the sand tray in the NSST
approach affords the fragmented, dissociated, disorganized, disintegrated, incoherent parts of a child's internal world to
be literally laid out in front of the child as
symbols in the sand tray. The figurines are
often chosen unconsciously and serve to
show the inner world of the child. These
previously unknown implicit parts or body
memories are expressed in time as past,
present and anticipated future. They can
be reorganized and made sense of to allow
for integration and the creation of a "coherent autobiographical narrative" (Siegel,
2001, p. 89).
My third and final example shows how
a child's solution to being so frightened
is to stop speaking. This had become the
presenting problem. Marie, five years old,
came into my office unable to speak due
to ongoing trauma she was experiencing
at the hands of her father. He was very loud

and verbally aggressive with her, and she
had withdrawn from speaking at all for fear
of reprisal. She had not spoken to anyone
for several months and very little to her
mother. My hypothesis was that, by not
speaking, Marie's limbic brain had solved
the problem of being fearful of Dad's anger.
She was at an unconscious level in an
immobilized state to keep safe. Her silence
allowed her to avoid provoking any violent
response from her father. In order to help
her speak I needed to move her from an
immobilised state to a play state. So, we
worked on her fear, and not the lack of her
voice. Marie began to create a picture with
figurines in the sand tray. I simply asked
questions about parts of her sand tray picture that I saw might be scary and about
what was needed to create safety in the
sand tray. I noticed a little girl figurine on
the ground in a direct line with two wolf-like
animals. I asked Marie if the little girl was
going to be all right with the wolves there.
She immediately placed the girl figurine in
a tree (Figure 5). Then I asked how the little
girl figurine was now that she was in the
tree. Marie didn't answer.
Figure 5.
The little girl is
safe in the tree.

But changes in Marie's brain and body
had begun the moment she put the figurine out of danger. I asked Marie how she
herself felt to see that the little girl was
now safe in the tree. She did not say anything to me, but she turned to her mother
and whispered something in her ear. Her
Mom turned to me and said, "She says
she feels much safer now." In less than
an hour in the sand tray Marie had transformed her survival-based immobilised
behaviour by creating a smaller version
of fear in the sand tray and transforming
it. She was able to experience herself differently. Marie did not return to see me.
However, her mother told me that Marie
continued to be able to speak to her after
the session, to speak a few weeks later
at school with her teacher and finally, to
even speak to her father (DeLittle, 2015).


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Winter 2018

President’s Perspective
The Fine Print
Book Review
How the Use of Neuroscience and the Satir Model in the Sand Tray Facilitates Healing in Low-Verbal or Non-Verbal Children
BC School Counseling: Preserving One-on-One Support for Students
SuperConference Recap
Ask an Expert: Dianne Noort Talks about Play Therapy
Counsellor’s Corner
Index to Advertisers
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - intro
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - cover1
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - cover2
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 3
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - President’s Perspective
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 5
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - The Fine Print
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - Book Review
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - How the Use of Neuroscience and the Satir Model in the Sand Tray Facilitates Healing in Low-Verbal or Non-Verbal Children
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 9
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 10
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 11
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 12
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - BC School Counseling: Preserving One-on-One Support for Students
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 14
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - SuperConference Recap
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - Ask an Expert: Dianne Noort Talks about Play Therapy
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 17
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - Index to Advertisers
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - cover3
BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - cover4