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J Sym & San Therapy > Volume 12(1); 2021 > Article
Journal of Symbols & Sandplay Therapy 2021;12(1): 51-82.
doi: https://doi.org/10.12964/jsst.21002
A Study on the Symbols and Themes of Sandplay Therapy for Children of Myanmar Refugees living in Malaysia
Hyeyoung Kim1, Eunjin Cho2, Mikyung Jang3
1Main author, Ph.D. Student Child Welfare Department school of, Nam Seoul National University
2Corresponding author, Student Child Welfare Department school of, Nam Seoul National University
3Co-author, Professor, Department of Child Welfare, Namseoul University (jangmiky@hotmail.com)
말레이시아 거주 미얀마 친족난민 아동의 모래놀이치료 상징 및 주제연구
김혜영1, 조은진2, 장미경3
1주저자, 남서울 대학교 아동복지학과 대학원 박사과정
2교신저자, 남서울대학교대학원 아동복지학과 박사수료
3공동저자, 남서울대학교 아동복지학과 교수
Correspondence :  Eunjin Cho ,Email: eunjin1805@naver.com
Received: March 30, 2021  Revised: June 21, 2021   Accepted: July 1, 2021
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 researcher 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 researcher 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 guilt 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 power 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.
KeyWords: fear and threat, protection and care, God’s presence and guilt, recovery of life, hope of a normal life
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