Creating a safe space during classroom-based sandplay workshops for immigrant and refugee preschool children

Beauregard, Caroline, Cécile Rousseau, Maryse Benoit, and Garine Papazian-Zohrabian (2022, mai)

Journal of Creativity in Mental Health


Schools must address immigrant and refugee children’s specific needs to enhance their psychosocial development. While most existing programs focusing on children’s emotional and developmental needs assume that they have a basic knowledge of the language of schooling, less verbal interventions, especially sandplay, provide other promising avenues. This article describes a classroom-based sandplay intervention with immigrant and refugee preschool children in Canada, involving teachers. Based on individual and class-level observations, we examine the creation of emotional safety during the workshops and teachers’ role in its development, focusing on the process of two children from Syria. Analyses suggest that teachers provided a safe-enough space that allowed children to express, during the workshops, emotions related to their life experiences. While implementing sandplay in non-clinical settings with non-art-therapists involves challenges, offering sandplay workshops in classrooms should be considered as a valid avenue of intervention to support the social adjustment of immigrant and refugee children.