Augmented Play Therapy
Augmented Play Therapy is a project that combines emerging design and technology with a traditional form of therapy for those who have difficulties in social and communication skills. Based on the principle of Sandplay Therapy that dates back to the 1950s, it is an expressive form of therapy that allows the user to develop stories and explore their inner psyche in a judgment-free and safe environment, aiming to stimulate and relax the user. Working in collaboration with Bendigo Health’s Psychiatric Ward and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, Augmented Play Therapy facilitates a new experience and tool for occupational therapists and elderly individuals at varying stages of Dementia.
Using a Kinect sensor and projector, a sandbox is animated to provide a ‘world-building’ experience to the user where they have control over their story, having the ability to create a variety of landscapes and scenarios. Additionally, through the use of miniatures, a narrative can be made and expressed through guided or unguided supervision. Sandplay Therapy has seen significant success within the mental health care field as it allows those who have difficulties communicating verbally another method of expression and exploration of self. By augmenting the experience with Projection Mapping, the stories are no longer restricted by the medium of sand and are able to reach an entirely new level of depth and engagement.
For the occupational therapist, it allows sessions to become more user-focused and driven, whereby the facilitator acts as a silent observer to the creativity of the user. For the user, Augmented Play Therapy facilitates the exploration of their inner self, development of creative skills and may even aid in the creation and retention of new experiences, thoughts, and memories.