Sand therapy helps PTS sufferers
By Aaron Wilton
Post-traumatic stress (PTS) afflicts millions of people. Most people think of military members when someone mentions PTS, but people can suffer from PTS for many reasons.
The counseling staff at LCC has recently added sand-tray therapy to its tool belt for assisting PTS sufferers in explaining the source(s) of their trauma.
Monic Del Castillo, who has been a counselor at LCC for nearly 20 years, is one of the trained sand-tray therapists.
“Last fall I was assigned to focus on our veteran and military students,” Del Castillo said. “I see general students as well … but I am located inside the (Office for) Veteran and Military Affairs in the Huron Building.”
She shared the background of sand-tray therapy.
“Sand-tray therapy has been around a long time.” She said. “It was (originally) used with children who had experienced trauma.
“The reason it was used with children is because, a lot of times, kids have a hard time talking about things. So, the sand-tray therapy allowed them to play out their feelings and their thoughts.”
Del Castillo explained that the success with children led to the same technique being used with sexual assault victims and, eventually, veterans and military personnel.
A grant from the LCC Educational Development Fund is what made the training and supplies for this form of therapy possible, according to Del Castillo. She offered some insight into an actual session of sand-tray therapy.
“They pick out figurines and then they place those figurines however they want in the sand tray,” Del Castillo said.
“They can bury those figurines, they can make mounds or mountains out of the sand and put them on top, and so on and so forth. They basically create this world in the sand that they then proceed to talk about.”
Del Castillo examines their work, then asks questions of her PTS students.
“Questions on my part are things like, ‘Who lives in this world?’ and ‘What’s the relationship of these various characters?’ or ‘What’s happening in this world?’
“So, after we spend about an hour or so talking about what’s going on in this world that they’ve created in the sand, then we start to talk about, ‘What was that like for them?’”
PTS students for which this technique is deemed appropriate come in by appointment for one and a half hour sessions, she said.
For more information about the counseling available at LCC visit www.lcc.edu/supportservices/counseling/ or call (517) 483-1924.