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J Sym & San Therapy > Volume 9(1); 2018 > Article
Journal of Symbols & Sandplay Therapy 2018;9(1): 63-82.
doi: https://doi.org/10.12964/jsst.18004
A Study of Themes and Symbols in Group Sandplay Therapy of Rohingya Refugee Children in Malaysia
SeHwa Lee1, Mikyung Jang2
1Ph.D. student, Child Welfare Department at Graduate School of Namseoul University
2Professor, Namseoul University
Correspondence :  SeHwa Lee ,Email: gginmandu@hanmail.net
Received: April 30, 2018  Revised: June 15, 2018   Accepted: June 18, 2018
This study analyzed the common themes and symbols expressed in group sandpictures of Rohingya refugees children who had fled from racial and religion oppressions in Myanmar and settled in Malaysia. A total of eight children who attended an international refugee school located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia participated in the study. The school is under the auspice of the UN Refugee Agency. These children were given three group sandplay sessions of 90 minutes over a period of two weeks. The participants’ sandpictures and comments during therapy were interpreted through an analytical psychological approach, after which the collected data was classified according to their similarities. Then the data was narrowed down, and themes that often arose in the sandpictures were categorized. As a result, five common themes were observed: destruction and death, ceaseless fighting, family members at risk, survival of the boat people, and the first step toward a normal life. The participants represented traumas they received, from the process of violent repression, evacuation, and adaptation to Malaysia, through direct linguistic expressions together with destructive and endless fighting sandpicture scenes. This study provided them with an opportunity to express their traumas and psychological distress under a trust-based relationship amongst the group members and to recognize the possibility that they could bring changes into their lives.
KeyWords: Rohingya refugee children, group sandplay therapy, symbols, themes, boat people
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