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May 7, 2018

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Expressive Therapies Summit – A Playful Event

Dr. Elnur Gajiev, Mike Sullivan, Dr. Lorraine Freedle and Dr. Dan Siegel in LA

Carl Jung said, “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”  This quote captures the essence of the Expressive Therapies Summit, a recent gathering of international clinicians interested in the role of play and art in healing.  The conference provided workshops in sandplay, poetry, nature art, role play, drawing, and more. It was a powerful way to release ourselves from the tug of war in the prefrontal cortex (our most complex executive functioning parts of our brains that tend to “overthink” things) and tap into the lower more relational and regulatory parts of our brains (our “lizard brains” as Dan Siegel calls it).  Needless to say, the conference was experiential education at its finest, replete with play and activity.

Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director and renowned sandplay expert Dr. Lorraine Freedle presented “Play as Archetype and Agent for Transformational Change.”  Audience members enjoyed learning about the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and the neuromechinisms involved with play, symbolic expression and healing.  Play isn’t just a human activity, it exists in many species of animals, and remains a critical component of social, emotional, and cognitive development. Dr. Freedle engaged the audience with interactive art, videos, and case studies, allowing participants to develop a felt sense for the power of play, and the important role it plays in transformational change.  Being that sandplay is Dr. Freedle’s specialty and her background is rooted in Jungian psychology, she brought her travel sand tray from Hawaii, and offered insights into the value of sandplay specifically.

The keynote address stands out as another highlight.  Dr. Dan Siegel, leader in the neuroscience field introduced themes from his new book, linking tools and insights related to decreasing chaos and rigidity, and increasing flexibility, adaptation, coherence, empathy, and stability (F.A.C.E.S.).  Dr. Siegel’s plethora of books remain favorites among the Pacific Quest team, and Dr. Elnur Gajiev, Dr. Lorraine Freedle, and myself were lucky enough to be present for his keynote address. Even better, we were able to chat with Dr. Siegel following the presentation and he was kind enough to give us a photo.

The Expressive Therapies Summit did not disappoint, and will remain a priority for continuing education in years to come.  Thank you Dr. Freedle for contributing your expertise to the event, and thanks to all the participants for making it a truly interactive and educational event.

September 27, 2017

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Hawai`i Hosts International Sandplay Therapy Congress

By:  Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director

Sandplay therapists and researchers from 24 countries gathered in Kailua-Kona this summer to explore the latest trends in Jungian Sandplay Therapy and to participate in the 24th Congress of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST).

With support from my Pacific Quest ohana and the Hawai`i sandplay community, I served as the primary conference organizer and host.  After two years of planning and anticipation, we were excited to realize that the conference surpassed all expectations!

Kahu Kauila Clark offered lessons in Hawaiian culture and ceremony, providing grounding each morning while eight PQ therapists participating in this advanced training opportunity spread the Spirit of Aloha with our visitors.

Research was presented on the effectiveness of Sandplay Therapy in treating individuals with anxiety, trauma, parental distress, and co-occurring disorders.

Neuroimaging data revealed how people access and reprocess memories through Sandplay and also provided evidence for neural synchronization between the therapist and the client during Sandplay Therapy.

I presented original research on the neuropsychology of Sandplay Therapy and the role of Sandplay in the treatment of adolescents and young adults with co-occurring trauma and substance use disorders.

Sandplay Therapy is offered to students at Pacific Quest. This nonverbal method has roots in Jungian psychology, play therapy, and eastern contemplative practices.  Touching the sand, using symbols for self-expression, and entering a state of mindful presence activates multiple brain systems for healing.  We have found that Sandplay Therapy complements our holistic approach and helps our students to express and resolve emotional and personality issues that may be inaccessible in verbal therapies alone.

On September 29, 2017 twelve therapists on our team will begin a year-long intensive and experiential training in Sandplay Therapy.  This series not only allows me to provide STA/ISST-certified training at Pacific Quest; it also improves quality of care for our students and helps my team practice self-care and grow stronger together.

Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director is an international sandplay teacher (STA/ISST), serves on boards of the Sandplay Therapists of Hawai`i and the Sandplay Therapists of America and is the Research Editor for the Journal of Sandplay Therapy.

For more info, visit:

International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST) https://www.isst-society.com/

Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) http://www.sandplay.org/

May 30, 2017

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Dr. Freedle Published in Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy

Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director at Pacific Quest Wilderness Program, was asked to contribute her original work to The Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy.  Dr. Freedle’s chapter, “Healing Trauma through Sandplay Therapy:  A Neuropsychological Perspective” explores the underlying mechanisms of Jungian sandplay therapy that promote neural integration and wholeness of personality.  It also chronicles the sandplay journey of Liv, a teenager who came to Dr. Freedle to heal from traumatic grief following the sudden and violent deaths of loved ones.

Dr. Lorraine Freedle

“This chapter is not just a brain-based theory, it’s anchored in depth psychology.  And so as we explore how sandplay helps traumatized people safely access and reprocess their pain, we don’t lose the importance of connection to the deeper Self,” Dr. Freedle shared.

As a board certified Pediatric and School Neuropsychologist and international Sandplay Teacher (STA/ISST) Dr. Freedle has practiced and lectured at the crossroads of neuropsychology and sandplay therapy for over 25 years.  The contents for the chapter emerged over a number of years building upon her prior presentations and publications.

When asked about what makes this chapter unique, Dr. Freedle shares “The chapter makes the neuropsychology of therapeutic change accessible and explains how sandplay works.  This is very important for people and programs who would like to utilize sandplay to effect meaningful change.”

This text will be used worldwide in universities to teach sandplay therapy. Pacific Quest congratulates Dr. Freedle on this prestigious honor and accomplishment!

For more information on The Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy as well as information on how to purchase, please visit: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-International-Handbook-of-Sandplay-Therapy/Turner/p/book/9781138101692

For more information on Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Programs, please visit: www.pacificquest.org

September 22, 2016

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Art and Sandplay Therapy Training Series

By: Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW
Primary Therapist

Art and Sandplay Therapy Training Series - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Nine members of the Pacific Quest team completed a 10-month long experiential art and sandplay therapy training lead by PQ Clinical Director, Dr. Lorraine Freedle. Sandplay is a non-verbal, depth-oriented, multi-sensory therapy wherein students use symbols and sand to express and work through their inner experiences. Sandplay rooms are available in both our adolescent and young adult programs. As a primary therapist in the young adult program, I have found this to be especially helpful at various points in treatment with students who are dysregulated and struggling with overwhelmingly difficult emotions. The therapeutic benefits begin as soon as we walk into the room lined with ceiling to floor shelves filled with objects, each of which contain symbolic meaning and energy. Students are incredibly drawn to the collection and it immediately stimulates dialogue, curiosity and expression. Students with trauma sometimes find this form of therapy provides them with a safe way to access and express memories through art, process the experience, and rejoin the world of others.

A Shared Journey

Lorraine held a space for each member of our group to learn concepts and to have a personal journey of healing through a variety of art mediums from pastels, to finger painting, to clay, to creating a “wholeness” project with collage materials. We began each session by making a group sand tray by choosing a personal object from among thousands on the shelves. Together, we created a safe space to go deep, heal and connect in an academically rich, learning experience that was indeed transformative. The experience prepared us to skillfully guide our PQ students on their unique journey.

In our final class, Lorraine prepared a slide show for each of us combining images from our process with her great insights. It felt profound to pause and witness each individual’s transformation in symbolic form.

Personal Reflections

As a Certified Gestalt Therapist, this training will live inside me in perfect harmony with my pre-existing “permission to be creative”, awareness of the here and now, and listening deeply to what emerges in my thoughts, feelings and messages from my body. The entire group expressed heartfelt appreciation for this unique experience to learn about ourselves first, so that we can serve our students well, as they travel their hero’s journey.

Art and Sandplay Therapy at PQ

We offer art and sandplay therapy to our students for many reasons: it’s fun and requires no artistic ability, it transcends verbal communication, and it is multidimensional, allowing for many processes from different levels in the brain and psyche to occur simultaneously. Art therapy is integrative, addressing emotional, cognitive, motor and sensory experiences happening in the here and now. It integrates right and left-brain functions, conscious and unconscious, past and present. And, it facilitates communication through processing what has been created, easing the discomfort that some experience from sharing purely emotional material.