BC Counsellor - Winter 2018 - 8

FEATURE

How The Use of
Neuroscience and the
Satir Model in the Sand Tray

FACILITATES
HEALING

in Low-Verbal or Non-Verbal Children
BY DR. MADELEINE DE LITTLE, PH.D., RTC, MTC, RCS
You have a child in your office at your
school that is so shy or unable to speak
that you have difficulty finding out what
is troubling them. Some of the other children you see are so anxious they refuse
to come to school, and they too cannot
articulate what is going on inside. This
article will help you gain greater confidence and competence in working with
children who feel the world is such a scary
place that, as a way of coping, they have
closed down communication. I am going
to give you three examples of children that
I have seen the work I did with them, and
what happened to their ability to communicate. In-between those examples,
I will cover some theory and practice of
Neuroscience and the Satir Model in the
Sand Tray (NSST). The key to this work is
to stay in the novel metaphor of the right
brain and to understand how most of the
presenting-problem behaviours we see
8

in schools are unconscious ways of the
child trying to keep safe. Virginia Satir
described how these coping strategies
are adopted to protect the self from insupportable grief, fear or unmet needs (as
cited in Banmen & Maki-Banmen, 2006).
The primary reason why children don't
speak or cannot articulate how they feel
about themselves is that they do not feel
safe. We are wired to seek safety, and when
safety is not perceived then the body
moves into protection mode. The system
that controls the 'Continuum of Safety' (De
Little, 2017) is called the Polyvagal system
(Porges, 2011). When children have either
experienced or imagined some form of
trauma or have seen a traumatic event on
television or a video game, it may set off
the alarm system in the body activated by
the amygdala. The amygdala in the brain
is not discerning about whether the threat
is actual or perceived. It serves to register

emotions, and fear is one of them. In so
doing, the amygdala initiates a string of
hormones that sets in motion the flightor-fight response.
The child may move to a mobilised state,
which is also referred to as hyper-aroused.
They may show signs of avoiding the
world by actively refusing to participate
in it physically or verbally. More seriously,
when this response does not help relieve
the child's sense of danger, the child may
move towards the parasympathetic system, which is called an immobilised state,
sometimes referred to as hypo-aroused.
Under such stressful conditions electrical
signals are sent to the dorsal vagal nervous system and the child may become
dissociated and/or dis-integrated. With a
perceived or real sense of terror, the Broca
speech area in the brain shuts down and
the child is 'scared speechless.' The heartbeat slows down as the body moves into a
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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
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