Doreen Fleet discusses using sand-trays in Counselling practice

Doreen F

Doreen Fleet

Doreen Fleet (Senior Lecturer in Counselling and a member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) is conducting a multiple case study using sand-tray with adults in short-term therapy from a pluralistic perspective and blogs about her recently published research:

Sand-tray therapy is a creative intervention and involves the use of a sand-tray and a collection of objects (see below for examples). The objects act as physical metaphors or symbols to represent a client’s inner–experience, personal history, personal relationships and their relationship to the wider world.

Doreen, in her article published in Private Practice in 2015, says:

In my view sand-tray therapy has something to offer over and above talking therapy; it appears that the client shifts from being stuck and overwhelmed in their pain to being able to explore and express it” (p17).

Being able to express and externalize their pain involves the client becoming “observer and experiencer simultaneously” they are able to take one step out of their pain, without losing connection to thought and feeling” (p17). This process enables the client to go further in their exploration and often brings new insight and relief from working through previously unexpressed emotion.

Jul16 DFleet SandTray 2 Jul16 DFleet SandTray

In the ongoing multiple case study using sand-tray, Doreen takes the dual role of counsellor-researcher. Doreen, along with her supervisors Dr. Amy Burton, Dr. Andrew Reeves and Dr. Mani Das Gupta have had a paper accepted by Qualitative Research in Psychology entitled ‘A case for the dual-role of counsellor-researcher in qualitative research’ which is now in press.

The article explores how the dual role of counsellor-researcher was managed in the study and a case example taken from the multiple case study is incorporated to illustrate how taking the dual role is a legitimate approach in qualitative research. Some researchers argue against taking a dual role in research, warning that the different roles have conflicting obligations and expectations which are not easily resolved (Kitchener, 1988).  Doreen, in her new paper (2016) challenges this and would echo Dallos and Vetere (2005) who state that practice-based data is convincing evidence for counselling research as “it captures the miracle of therapy in a way that statistics and randomized controls cannot” (p131).  Doreen and her supervisors argue that this research approach is highly relevant to counselling, as it closes the gap between research and counselling practice.

Are you interested in studying for a Counselling qualification?

Staffordshire University offers counselling courses ranging from Foundation Degrees with local partner colleges, undergraduate degrees (including a British Psychological Society accredited BSc Psychology and Counselling degree) and postgraduate counselling qualifications at our Stoke-on-Trent City Campus: