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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Sally Bryant

Illumination of the Self: Sandplay Therapy with Older Adults
18 MAY 2023
1.00 PM - 2.30 PM

The proposed research aims to identify the effectiveness of Sandplay Therapy as a psychotherapeutic approach with community-dwelling older adults (65+ years, living independently), who are experiencing the natural developmental process of aging in later life stages. With the extension of older age and the significant increase in older adult populations worldwide, understanding the psychological impacts of aging, and holistic needs of older adults is more important than ever. Therefore, this research aims to utilise sandplay, a highly suitable non-threatening approach, with this population to support psychological growth, improve holistic health, and report on individual's experiential outcomes. It is hoped that such research, with the effects of aging taken into account, will contribute to advances in adaptations to more traditional psychotherapies with older adults, e.g., Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Reminiscence Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy (Garner, 2003), all of which are more limiting verbal approaches for this population (Suri, 2012). 

Sandplay Therapy is a therapeutic, non-verbal, creative and play-based approach to psychotherapy. It enables problems within the unconscious to emerge and find resolution "more freely than in verbal articulation and exchange" (Pearson & Wilson, 2001, p.5). Trusting the unconscious and the ability of the older adult to direct and construct their own deep healing, is strikingly different than that of traditional conscious-mind talk-therapies, which are generally much more `objective, authoritative, analytical, and linear' (Ryce-Menuchin, 1992, p. 88). 

The research also has potential to advance knowledge in the field of Sandplay Therapy generally and specifically to the chosen population. The publication of the research is intended to move the field of sandplay and psychotherapy forward to provoke thought and discussion with respect to the interpretations of the older adults' personal sandplay process, and to advance readers' understanding and knowledge of Sandplay Therapy. Finally, the author's hope is that the research will inspire exploration, deepening and further development and application of the theory and practice of sandplay with our aging population, which is the largest in history.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 31 1088.