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Punnett, A. Canfield, M. (2020). Changes in Verbalizations during Sandplay: An Empirical Study. J. Anal. Psychol., 65(3):497-518.

(2020). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 65(3):497-518

Changes in Verbalizations during Sandplay: An Empirical Study

Audrey Punnett, Ph.D. and Merle Canfield, Ph.D.

This is a quantitative study of an 11-year-old boy diagnosed with major depression who in all but one session made a sandplay. A computerized system was used to analyse the written verbalizations on four dimensions of positive and negative: emotions, contracts (psychosocial agreements, relationships, etc.), performance (behaviour) and rewards. It was hypothesized that the verbalizations made by the patient (recorded by the therapist) would become more positive and less negative during the course of therapy. The positive and negative values of the four dimensions were correlated with the session number. This was supported on two (performance & contract) of the four positive dimensions (statistically significant). The hypothesis that the negative dimensions would become less negative was supported on all four dimensions (statistically significant). Thus, six of the eight hypotheses were supported. This uninvestigated area of research illustrates verbal interactions between patient and therapist were an important aspect of sandplay therapy. Through reanalysing the sessions for quantitative content, written recording of direct quotes and observation of behaviour, data was entered into a valid and reliable coding system to quantitatively analyze the verbalizations. This analysis of verbalizations of the patient and observations made by the therapist indicates sandplay therapy is multifaceted.

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