Expressive Sandwork Projects

SAAJA in collaboration with the International Association of Expressive Sandwork (IAES), has undertaken the implementation of Expressive Sandwork projects in Hanover Park, Cape Town. SAAJA has also worked closely with CASE (Community Action towards a Safe Environment) an NPO in Hanover Park, to bring the Expressive Sandwork Projects to fruition. Since 2015 five projects, twelve weeks each, have been completed. Over 60 children have benefitted from the project and 45 volunteers have been trained.

Expressive Sandwork is a specific intervention developed by Eva Pattis-Zoja, Analytical Psychologist, to assist children in vulnerable communities. It is a very precise method which has evolved since 2008, in which groups of children are invited to play freely with miniatures in sandboxes in a safe and protected space weekly for 12 weeks. Volunteers from the community are trained to be witnesses to the children’s play. The intervention is carried out in silence with no interpretations offered.

This intervention is based on the premise, as formulated by Jung, that there is a self-regulating aspect in everyone that also serves as a source of energy. Jung termed this the Self. In Expressive Sandwork, the child is offered a safe and protected space in which this self-regulating aspect of the psyche can resolve some of the conflicts with which the child is confronted. While playing in the sandbox the child can give form to conflicts troubling them and in so doing bring about some healing.

Expressive SandworkIn the process of Expressive Sandwork, we trust that if we provide a safe and protected space in which the child can play, observed by a related and empathic witness (the volunteer), some significant positive changes may occur.

Children are selected to participate in the programme who are manifesting a range of difficulties: excessive aggression; poor relationships with peers, teachers, and care-givers; depression and social withdrawal; absenteeism, and academic underachievement. Following participation in the programme, children’s behaviour often improves, their peer relationships as well as those with their teachers and care-givers get better, and their mood may improve as well as their academic performance.

The International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP) and the Susan Back Foundation generously gave us research grants for Expressive Sandwork research. We have implementing the first research project in Hanover Park, Cape Town, in collaboration with the University of the Free State. Further research projects are planned for 2020.

However, besides the research grants, funding for this project relies entirely on donations from benefactors. No donation is too small. Should you wish to donate, please click on the “Donations” tab and state that the donation is intended for the Expressive Sandwork project.

SAAJA is registered as a NPO (197-888 NPO).

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