Grubbs, Geri A

Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 4, Number 1, 1994

KEY WORDS: trauma, abuse, child, children, sexual abuse, clinical example, ego fragmentation, sandplay therapy.

ABSTRACT: Referred to as “soul murder,” sexual abuse affects deeply the developing psyche of the young child and is reflected in their artwork. Based upon dissertation research and clinical material, the sandplay process of two boys, ages 9 and 10, who were sexually abused by their fathers is presented. A major focus is on specific disturbances expressed in their creative play that include a loss of humanity and sense of isolation from the community, mobilization of defenses, ego fragmentation and dissociation, and repetitive self-destruction. These expressions were continuously acted out into their 12-tray process until a level of the Self was portrayed that suggests a releasing of a constellation of its archaic or dark side. Then, through the release of this suffering darkness, in both cases, spiritual tray and opening to the divine was created. How it resulted for each boy in the end, however, depended upon the emotional involvement of their mothers.