Play therapy for Syrian refugee children

Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Oct 04, 2016

All the five groups have completed one play therapy session now. This first session was very much focused on helping the children getting to know each other and forming a group identity where they could feel they belonged. The five group names the children decided upon are: the volcano group, the superhero players group, the lions group, the ants and army group, and the dragon group. The children have each been given a shoe box into which they can place the things they make. ...Getting hold of 25 shoe boxes (without buying shoes) has been an amusing challenge. At the end of the 10 sessions the children can decide which of the things they have made they would like to keep and which they would like to take home. The children may be expressing memories and feelings in the things they make during future play therapy sessions. These may be very positive or, they may also be things from the past they do not wish to share with anyone else outside of the therapeutic space. This is what this box will provide, a safe space where such can be held until the child is ready to decide what should be done with them. It gives the children the much needed control.
During the first session the children were given the opportunity to decorate their boxes. Some children treated this box as if it was a treasure box and decorated it with great care. This reminded me of how privileged we as therapists are, that children place great trust in us to be able to witness and listen to their memories, feelings and emotions. The children were very excited to be able to play with all the toys. The sand, musical instruments and puppets were used the most. I have been amazed at how I was able to communicate with the children and start to build rapport using these and not having to rely on a translator alone. Play is a form of communication. At the same time, it has also been wonderful having my translator present. She has such a heart for children and is extremely sensitive to their feelings and needs. Overall, I feel it has been a very positive week. Themes of friendships and family connection have also started to come through.

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Sep 30, 2016

This is the classroom we entered before we set up our colourful equipment.

I am so excited, today I had my first play therapy session with the Syrian children here in Jordan. The room is usually used as a classroom and needed some transformation. It was wonderful to see how some colour can make a huge difference. The children were excited to come and play. This first session was all about exploring the toys, getting to know each other, making a group flag and designing their own hand print which they use to sign in and out of each session by sticki...ng it to the group flag. It was interesting to note how the children were most engaged when using the sand. I am considering taking the second sand tray with me for the following sessions. During the next sessions I will also introduce paint, clay and other craft materials to the play therapy room. This week, I felt strongly that it would have been too overwhelming to put all of the toys/art materials in the room. Many children mentioned to me before, how they had no toys at home. Today, nearly all the children wanted to take toys home at the end of the session and it was hard to explain that the toys needed to stay here so we could play with them next week. It amazes me how much is needed to kit out a room to make it "child friendly" whilst also considering transport arrangements of getting things to and from the location. MECI has been absolutely wonderful in helping me move all this kit by squeezing it into a car which also needed to accommodate 3 adults. Oh the joys of being a travelling play therapist. Thank you all (and especially MECI) for your continued interest, support and encouragement. The photos are of the room pre and post, some local children who were very interested in what was going on as we set up. Enjoy!

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Sep 07, 2016

What a great team there is here at Meci. They were really interested in learning about play therapy, the benefits of play and also some neuroscience which I am hoping will help them in their work with children out in the community.

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Sep 07, 2016

You can guess what I am holding in my hands. I am pleased to announce that the paperwork we have been waiting for has finally arrived so we can now get started. Hurray! .

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Sep 03, 2016

Hi everyone. I have some good news. The plan is to start the first of the 10 sessions next week on Thursday all being well. I will keep you updated. This delay has meant that I will be staying in Jordan for a further 3 months. This picture describes how I feel about my time here. Despite the delay and ups and downs I have met some wonderful people here in Jordan. I am not someone who gives up easily and so far have taken each day as an opportunity to help others in whatever way I can.





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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Aug 16, 2016

Many of you have been asking and wondering why I haven’t shared more information about the project I am setting up here in Jordan. The short answer is, because we haven’t actually been able to start the session yet. There have been some delays to do with paperwork (nothing to do with the play therapy project). This has been the reason why we could not start in June as originally planned.
Whilst being here and waiting, I became aware of how some researchers come along, try to ...do “their research” for “their project” as quickly as possible so they can go back to “their lives” without actually being of any help / support to the people they had just met. Many Syrian refugee families have told me how people from the West come, ask them their life story (expecting all the details even though they have never met before) and then leave them to go back to their comfortable life. This is why they now say, they have become more reluctant to share their story or sometimes don’t even want to see anyone from the West. Who could blame them, if this is has been their experience. I wonder how we would feel if we were in their situation.
There are two reasons why I have decided to wait this process out. Firstly, I feel it would not be right to contact the families I have had the interviews with and tell them ‘sorry I am going to do my project somewhere else, because it would be quicker and for me that way’. This would not be ethical. Although I am here to conduct this research (and I do have a deadline), my heart is for the people. I would like to be of some kind of help to these families and not take advantage of them, just so I can finish my research faster. Any challenges or inconveniences this delay has brought, is nothing to compare with what these Syrian families are going through on a daily basis.
Secondly, MECI has been absolutely wonderful. They are a fantastic group of people with a passion for what they do. I know they have tried so hard to help and have done all that is within their capabilities. I give them full credit for that. I continue to feel privileged to be part of such a great organisation and know (and hope) that together we can make this happen soon.
I would like to thank all of you for your continued support, encouragement and donations. I will keep you updated on the progress of this project and hope that together we can all learn to respect and honour people wherever we are.

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Jun 18, 2016

I had these two sand trays made. They are absolutely beautiful, all I need to do now is paint the sides and base blue. Tomorrow is a momentous day as the first parent interviews are scheduled to take place. Thank you so much for all your support. Every little helps to raise more money for the wonderful Middle East Children's Institute (MECI) who are doing such remarkable work with the refugee children from Syria. These play therapy sessions will provide the much needed safe space where the children can process their feelings and trauma with a qualified play therapist.

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On Jun 05, 2016

I am pleased to say I have arrived safely in Jordan and all the play therapy kit has arrived. Today, I had my first meeting with MECI which was brilliant. I also went to a clay factory to purchase some clay to use in the play therapy sessions. Please see my facebook page for photos.

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Update posted by Sarah Elliott On May 27, 2016

I have posted a few pictures of the play therapy kit which is all nicely now packed up on my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Play-Therapy-for-Refugee-...

Please go and see for more information and follow the progress of this project. It is less than a week to go before I fly to Jordan. I am very excited. Thank you for all your support. Sarah

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Well - this women is one of the best you will ever hope to meet. Very proud to know you Sarah.

Shirley Cook

Backed with £20.00 On Aug 13, 2016

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Happy Happy Birthday and continued prayers for your wonderful crusade! Thinking of you lots and lots and we hope this helps slightly to aid your time making such a wonderful difference xxxxx Matthew, Francesca, Oliver , Monty and Liberty xxx

Francesca Biddle

Backed On Jul 21, 2016 Amount Hidden

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Anonymous

Backed with £20.00 On Jul 11, 2016

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Hope many children will be greatly helped through your play therapy Sarah. Thank you for your kindness towards Josephine at Thorne Pre School. Take care, Rachel Cole X

RACHEL COLE

Backed On Jun 16, 2016 Amount Hidden

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I thought this had gone through the first time! Love to you and all and Happy Ramadan X

Lucinda Bennett

Backed with £20.00 On Jun 16, 2016

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Anonymous

Backed On Jun 12, 2016 Amount Hidden

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Sarah, wishing you a safe journey, what you are doing is amazing, love & best wishes, Matt, Rachel, Nathan, Lewis & Ruby xxx

Rachel Andrews

Backed with £20.00 On May 31, 2016

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Well done Sarah, what a fantastic cause! Please stay safe! We will miss seeing your friendly face while you are away. xx

Sarah Tolley

Backed with £10.00 On May 28, 2016

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Hope all goes well! X

Sarah Ross

Backed with £20.00 On May 27, 2016

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Deb Henderson

Backed with £10.00 On May 23, 2016

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