Tsunami Representation Within Creative Expression Workshops for Immigrant and Refugee Preschoolers and the Use of Sandplay

Assoc Prof Louise Lacroix,
Cécile Rousseau,
Marie-France Gauthier,
Abha Singh,
Nadia Giguère,
Yasmine Lemzoudi
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Play and artistic expression are commonly used in therapeutic and educational settings. Improved self esteem, expression of emotions, problem solving and conflict resolution are the most frequently mentioned benefits of therapy methods based on creative expression. The Department of Creative Arts therapies at Concordia University and the Transcultural Psychiatry team at the Montreal Children's Hospital, in partnership with schools, have implemented creative expression workshops for kindergarten to help children bridge the gap between past and present, culture of origin and host society. These workshops aim to facilitate preeschoolers to their first entry in the school and to prevent psychological distress. This project is a preventive invervention program within a multiethnic neighborhood with a predominance of south Asian persons. This intervention took place coincidentally 2 weeks after the tsunami tragedy in Asia (Dec. 04), although it had not been planed the sandplay activities became a place of spontaneous expression of this experience for the children.

This presentation will look at the tsunami representation in the sand tray of the children, with the aim of understanding how children reacted to this event and to their family's worries transmitted on them and how they responded to adversity through different strategies. The sandplay provided a space for both verbal and non verbal expression and corresponded to their developmental stage. A key aspect of the workshops was that they are seen as safe place for self-expression, and disclosure of losses, separation and trauma. Participants felt supported by the team and by the ritual nature of play and creativity.

Keywords: Immigrant, Refugee, Preschoolers, Prevention, Art-Therapy, Creativity
Stream: Arts Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Assoc Prof Louise Lacroix

Coordinator of Art Therapy Option, Department of Creative Arts Therapies 
Concordia University, Concordia University

Montreal, Québec, Canada

Louise Lacroix is an art therapist and assistant professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. For the past decade, her research and clinical interests have been in Transcultural Psychiatry, working with immigrant and refugee children and adolescents. In collaboration with the Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Louise has been involved in conceptualizing creative expression workshops in storytelling and drawing for children in welcoming classes. Over the past two years, Louise has developed a pilot project involving preschool children using sandplay techniques. Her objective is to develop creative expression workshops that can then be implemented in multiethnic schools as part of mainstream academic activities. These programs aim to give young immigrants and refugees a chance to reappropriate and share group stories so as to support the construction of meaning and identity in their personal stories and establish a bridge between past and present. Louise has published articles and lectured on the use and benefits of these workshops both nationally and internationally.

Cécile Rousseau

Director of Transcultural Psychiatric Team, Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University

Dr Rousseau is the director or the Transcultural Child Psychiatric Team at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University.  She has been involved in multiple researches including immigrant and refugee family and mental health.

Marie-France Gauthier

Drama Therapist, Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Marie-France has been involved at clinical level as a drama therapist in the Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.  She participates in multiple research projects such as sandplay, playback theatre which take place in multiethnic schools in welcoming classes.

Abha Singh

Art Therapist, Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Abha is a clinician in the Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. She is an art therapist involved in sandplay workshop as well as creative expressive workshop in multiethnic schools.

Nadia Giguère

Intern Anthropology, Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Yasmine Lemzoudi

Intern Art Therapist, Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Yasmine is an art therapist (MA thesis pending) specialized in working with immigrant youth and multicultural issues.  She has been involved in sandplay research project in kindergarten school in collaboration with the Transcultural Psychiatric Clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Ref: A06P0430