The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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January 17, 2013

Athens State professor to speak at United Nations

— An Athens State University professor has been invited to speak to a United Nations committee later this month.

Dr. Melissa Werner will address the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Committee on the Family on Jan. 24 at the U.N. in New York. She will speak on the “Role of Families in Sand and Play Therapies in Refugee and Vulnerable Communities.”

The NGO organization provides information and advocacy for family issues to the U.N. system. The invitation was based on recognition of Werner’s work as an early childhood educator and child analyst.

Werner is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education and candidate in the Child Analyst program at the C. G. Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland.

“Sand and play therapies allow the child control of the process,” said Werner. “The child uses miniatures in sand or drawing on paper to express or process trauma or create another world where the trauma does not exist. Play offers a process of mental assimilation to a child while it provides joy and an increase in vitality.” 

She said images used by the child in sand or on paper are symbols that can transcend mental opposites or blockages. She added that the therapist is a witness to the child’s act of creation.

“Having to verbally tell the story of what happened, even if the child has the linguistic ability, can re-traumatize the child,” she said.

Following Werner’s presentation, she has been asked to attend a working group meeting on the situation of children in migration and refugee camps in Jordan.

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