Adult and family Sand Play Therapy is for those who have tried talk therapy and it did not work. Sand Play Therapy has been referred to as imaginative listening or meditative thinking. Sand Play Therapy is rooted in Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious and archetypes which is based on the philosophical idea of concrete vs. general essence.
What is Sand Play Therapy
A general essence is an abstract idea. These abstract ideas are believed to be eternal and non-contingent. In other words, the existence of an abstract idea does not depend on human existence for the object to exist, such as a circle. A circle exists if a person perceives it or not.
When I talk of a circle everyone can visualize what I am talking about. This visualization is the general essence or the collective unconscious. A concrete essence would be a specific circle such as the tire on your car. The tire on your car is the concrete example of a circle. The tire therefore is representation or a symbol of a circle.
Sand Play Therapy
brings out the general essence and collective conscious through the use of concrete representation of your inner world through symbols. The symbols in Sand Play Therapy are miniatures such as action figures, matchbox cars, shapes, etc. The symbols represent what is going on deep down inside which is not recognized consciously.
These symbols allow you to express your emotions, thoughts, and feelings through a nonverbal manner. Sand Play Therapy can help you discover unconscious conflict, unconscious why of behavior, rules, roles, rituals, help find stuck points in your personal growth, etc.
I Tried Other Forms of Therapy, Why Should I Try Sand Play Therapy?
Sand Play Therapy could work if you have tried other forms of therapy and they have not worked. This is because many times the deeper the pain or the trauma the less likely words could communicate and explain the experience, pain, or the trauma.
Sand Play Therapy can aid you in getting in touch and expressing the hidden pain and/or trauma that is controlling your behavior and unconscious thoughts.
Call for an appointment now to learn more about Sand Play Therapy and if it is right for you!
Relationship Counseling Approach
According to Mayer (2000), conflict is a real or perceived disagreement about incompatibility, interest, intentions, value, motivation, behavior, or worldview. Mayer further points out that conflict has three
- Cognitive - Perception.
- Emotion - Feels they are being attacked and becomes emotionally reactive.
- Behavior - Person believes that another person is blocking his/her needs, wants, or goals.
I believe that the key words are perception and belief. In the Philosophical branch of Epistemology, a belief is not seen as true or false but warranted vs. unwarranted. In Psychology, a belief is either rational vs. irrational or realistic vs. unrealistic. A warranted, rational, or a realistic belief has some empirical evidence to back a claim or the belief.
I believe that there are three major things that cloud and distort our ability to distinguish between warranted vs. unwarranted, rational vs. irrational, or realistic vs. unrealistic. These are the accuracy and use of Theory of Mind (ToM), high emotional reactivity
, and high number and degrees of Cognitive Distortions
Theory of Mind (ToM) has been called by different names by different authors such as mind reading, metalizing, and empathy. These names, however, carry the same essence or construct.
The concept of ToM was introduced in 1978 by Premack Ann Woodruff to explain a person's ability to predict and explain another person's actions (as cited by Bosco, Gabbatore, & Tirassa, 2014). ToM has been studied by neuropsychologists and they have discovered parts of the brain termed the Social Brain where ToM and social cognition are processed (Bosco et al., 2014).
A former professor of mine best explains the idea behind the construct of ToM. The professor took a drink of water and then asked the class, "Why did I do that?" The class started to give their hypothesis why the professor took a sip of water. Answers were comments such as, "You were thirsty" or "You wanted to teach us a lesson." The professor stated these are all good answers, but the truth is you have no idea why I did this. The professor then added, "All you can know is my behavior and all you can do is infer and guess at my motivation." The professor without realizing it was teaching the concept of ToM. The class had to come up with a hypothesis or create a theory about the professor's motivation for drinking the water. ToM, as mind reading and metalizing, is the theory that we come up with to explain another person's behavior, motivation, intentions, feelings, knowledge, beliefs, or desires. ToM has also been associated and even called empathy (Bosco, Gabbatore, & Tirassa, 2014).
ToM is normally developed by two years old, except for people with Schizophrenia, Asperger's Syndrome and Autism Disorders (Kenny & Acitelli, 2001). Nevertheless, a study by Kenny and Acitelli, suggests that a person when creating their ToM can be inaccurate, especially when a person's frame of reference is themselves, which most people do as demonstrated by two experiments by Keysar, Lin, and Barr (2003). Keysar et al., experiments further suggests that people do not always use their ToM. Thus putting these two studies together people do not always use their ToM and if they do, chances are their ToM is not accurate.
Studies have shown that people can create a more accurate ToM. I can show you how to use and become more accurate in developing your ToM.
The second reason for interpersonal conflict is due to our cognitive error or distortions. Cognitive Distortions, according to the APA, are an inaccurate or faulty thinking, belief, or perception (APA, 2007, p.189). These patterns of thinking include:
- Mind Reading - Thinking you know what another person is thinking, feeling, etc. without evidence.
- Catastrophizing - Expecting the worse to happen.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking - See things as having no middle ground.
- Emotional Reasoning - Reality is based on how you feel rather than logic and evidence.
- Labeling - You call yourself names.
- Overgeneralization - You see negative events as an ongoing pattern, (e.g. It always...)
- Personalization - You blame, self, other, or things that have no control over the behavior, (e.g. it always rains because the rain is out to get me.)
- Should Statements - You think you or others should...
- Minimizing the Positive - Not celebrating small steps, (e.g. It's not a big deal...)
Differentiation of Self (DOS)
A lack of Differentiation of Self (DOS) is one of the eight pillars of Bowen's Family Therapy Model. According to Bowen, a person has two fundamental drives: the drive for togetherness and the drive for autonomy. A person with high need for togetherness becomes very emotionally reactive to other people. They become fused and to a degree co-dependent. A person who is independent is less emotionally reactive to other people but also less emotionally present in the relationship. According to Bowen, these two drives need to be balanced for a person to have a high degree of DOS.
According to Gilbert (1992), people who are highly self-differentiated are less attached to themselves or others. They are therefore less emotionally reactive and therefore less fused with others or co-dependent on another person for the way they think, feel, and behave.
People high in DOS make better decisions because of their openness and flexibility, which gives them more choices. In other words, people who are highly self-differentiated do not depend on others for their identity or try to use their relationships to complete themselves. They do not let their relationships dictate their behavior. Thus, their thoughts, judgement, or emotions are not contingent on what others think of them. They are not trying to be accepted, they are simply trying to live according to their principals. The lower a person's level of self differentiation, the less they have of these abilities (Gilbert, 1992). A highly self differentiation person is free, and according to David Schnarch (2009), also have a better sex life.
I believe that a couple with high accuracy of ToM, less Cognitive Distortions, and high levels of DOS will have greater intimacy as they will be able to recognize what John Gottman (2001), refers to as a "bid for intimacy."
References for Couple's Conflict
APA. (2007). Cognitive Distortion. In A. P. Association, & G. R. VanderBoss (Ed.), APA Dictionary of Psychology (p. 189). Washington DC: American Psychological Association References
Bosco, F. M., Gabbatore, L., & Tirassa, M. (2014, Feb). A broad assessment of theory of mind in adolescence:The complexity of mindreading. Consciousness and Cognition, 24, 84–97. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2014.01.003
Gilbert, R. M. (1992). Differentiation of Self. In R. M. Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationship: A New way of thinking (pp. 18-25). New York : John Wiley and sons inc.
Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (2001). The Relationship Cure: A five-step guide for building better connections with family, friends, and lovers. Crown Pub.
Kenny, M. C. (2000, Fall). Working With Children Of Divorce And Their Families. Psychotherapy, 37(3), 228-239.
Keysar, B., Lin, S., & Barr, D. J. (2003). Limits on theory of mind use in adults. Cognition, 89(1), 25-41.
Mayer, B. (2000). The Nature of Conflict. In B. Mayer, The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution A Practitioners Guide (pp. 3-25). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass inc.
Schnarch, D. (2009). Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Our body remembers our physiological and psychological trauma. When a traumatic event occurs our bodies react through a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. These reactions become associated with the traumatic event. The traumatic event also brings unpleasant feelings. Our minds and physiology at times cannot tell the difference between an event that is occurring and has occurred. Therefore, certain sights, sounds, smells, or any sensory information may remind you of the traumatic event. These reminders are called triggers. These triggers may then become associated with the events that are not directly related to the traumatic event. This is called chaining. Chains can become endless; these chains are what keeps you from living a full life and not the traumatic event in itself.Example of chaining:
For example, you go to a favorite store and you hear something drop on the floor. This awakens your fight, flight, or freeze response which reminds you of the original traumatic event. Now you associate your once favorite store with the traumatic event. Chains prevent you from doing the things in life you used to enjoy. Because of chaining, you now perceive your favorite activities as dangerous, such as going to a favorite store or place.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an evidence-based approach which simply means that it has worked in a number of research studies. PE may appear to be a little cruel as you will be expected to face your fears and the things you have been avoiding. However, it also helps you identify and break the chains that have become associated with the traumatic event. PE aids you in realizing that the traumatic event was situational. It in no way minimizes or denies the impact of traumatic event.
Call now for an appointment to learn more about PE and if it is right for you.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
a traumatic event is not behavioral and as simple as breaking chains. Rather it
is our thoughts, feelings of helplessness, and/or guilt associated with the traumatic
event that needs to be the focus of treatment. The traumatic event does not lead to avoidance
but rather leads to depression and internalizing symptoms. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) will teach you how to challenge unhelpful and distressing thoughts that prevent you from moving on with your life.
Call now for an appointment to learn more about CPT and if it is right for you.