Those that popped into Valentés restaurant (formerly Vinnies) last Saturday may have been surprised to see sandboxes laid out on some of the tables. A new initiative by local counselor René André, ‘sandplay’ is a creative and holistic approach to healing and emotional development.
“Sandplay is really just like play, it can be used with both adults and children and it’s about working things out in a way that is free and imaginative,” says René.
On the surface sandplay is literally about playing with toys in the sand, but at a deeper level, the objects you pick and the shapes you make in the sand can suggest something a little more symbolic.
Having amassed a collection of objects and toys for sandplay over the last 15 years, René reckons everybody that popped in was giving it a go.
“I’d originally intended to run the café from three to five, but I didn’t end up getting away until eight o’clock!” he said.
A practicing counselor and psychotherapist René wanted to raise awareness about different approaches to healing and personal development.
“I think that counseling in agencies is becoming increasingly managerial, pathological and academic. There’s a tendency to lean towards diagnosis of a ‘condition’ and I think that can alienate people from approaching these agencies.”
While not as mainstream as traditional approaches, ‘sandplay’ has more recently been used to help children in vulnerable communities like refugee camps. Even though it can be fun and lighthearted, for the therapist, ‘sandplay’ can provide a ‘snapshot of the psyche.’
“You might be drawn to particular objects more than other ones and once you start thinking about why you chose those you can get some real insights.”
For René, raising awareness about sandplay is about trying to reintroduce creative and holistic therapies to the public domain and ‘bridging the gap’ between common perceptions about counseling and the reality of doing ‘inner work.’
Initially trying out the Sandplay Café idea to see how people would respond, René hopes to run the café again soon.
For more information on sandplay therapy you can contact René at Therapeutic Spaces: 027 6333 095.