The purpose of the study was to explore and describe (Gray, 2009) how an analysis of risk and resilience in the first sand tray of youth in a rural school may inform knowledge on psychological assessment in South Africa as well as assessment for resilience in high adversity settings. The study forms part of a continuing investigation of the Centre for the Study of Resilience with regards to the nature of school-based Educational Psychology services in remote South Africa. An instrumental case study design was used to identify risk and resilience in the first sand trays of 25 youth at a rural school in Mpumalanga. The youth were between the ages of 13 and 19. Data was gathered in the form of visual data (photographs), client narratives and Academic Service Learning student reflections.
The results indicated that the first sand trays of youth at a rural school in South Africa can be effectively used in assessing resilience. Indicators of both risk and protective resources emerged during data analysis. Within the first sand tray violence and a need for protection, unfulfilled basic- and nurturance needs, and gender inequality and conflict emerged as indicators of risk. Spirituality, fulfilled needs, and a sense of belonging emerged as protective resources. These findings indicate that within a highly diverse, and, adverse setting, sand trays can be used to assess resilience.