Natalie’s Story

Artist: Toha Hasan

Natalie is 44 years old. She was referred to an Arts Therapist because of the decline in her physical and mental health. Her body was full of symptoms that doctors couldn’t find a cause for. Natalie was aggressive and often violent in her relationships and as a result they would often breakdown leaving her isolated and alone. The day she met the Arts Therapist she was desperate for help. The Arts Therapist invited Natalie to pour all her distress into a ‘sandtray’ using whatever objects she wanted to express herself. Natalie created the sandtray below.


The Sandtray

At the front of the sandtray was a wall of superheros. Towards the back she placed a large crab on a pile of sand. Beneath the sand she placed a broken doll with a missing arm and a torn and dirty dress. Natalie began to speak about each object in the sandtray. The superheroes were aggressive protectors of the crab. The crab was protecting the broken dirty doll. The doll was buried and hidden so deep down in the sand…she was punished so terribly punished. Natalie began to sob as she told the story of the doll who was beaten and tortured by a cruel mother who made her stand in the cold garden for many hours without food or water for as long as she could remember. Natalie began to tell her true story. As she began to feel safe she said, ‘this was me when I was a child like this doll’. My mother was psychotic and violent and I lived with terrible beatings and cruelty every day. The child who had never been seen or heard began to speak and tell her truth for the first time. Natalie began to work with the Arts Therapist and her childhood pain bringing it slowly into the light. This began the slow and painful path to her recovery.

(Carrie Herbert 2006)