A Sand Tray is a square box usually with a blue bottom filled with sand. Most sand trays are several inches deep and rectangle shaped. Sand Trays are meant to represent a miniature world. The sand tray is filled with sand. There are figurines or small symbolic objects for you to use to populate your miniature world including people, animals, mythical animals and all sorts of objects.
Sand Tray is a terrific tool for play therapy with children! Many people who see my Sand Tray or my shelves of miniatures for the first time assume that I must work with children. (I work with only adult clients.) In fact, British psychoanalyst Margeret Lowenfield began using the sand tray as a tool to work with children in the 1920’s.
It was only later that Dora Kalff and others began using the Sand Tray for adults. They discovered that they could incorporate the teachings of Carl Jung as well as Eastern Philosophy into the Sand Tray Modality.
Sand Tray therapy is the kind of thing that most people can’t picture themselves doing until they use it for the first time. Sand Tray can be a remarkable aid to help you describe elements of your experience that are hard to put into words. Not only that but the Sand Tray allows you to create a map of your inner world so that you can see different aspects of your inner experience simultaneously. It may help you to think of the sand tray as a visual map of your inner world.
Here is an example of a sandtra y that an individual created who was dealing with the loss of multiple loved ones. Creating this scene enabled the individual to explain how they felt alone in the world without their loved ones who had passed on.
My colleagues and I have been using the Sand Tray as a tool in our peer supervision group for many years. The great thing about the Sand Tray is that it allows therapists to zoom out of their experiences with their clients so that they can see the therapeutic relationship more clearly.
Below is a sandtray that depicts the eternal dilemma of anyone in the helping professions; How to deal with your own “baggage” while you are trying to help another person. The question is whether you are able to use your own experiences in a useful way to empathize with your client or whether your own baggage is impinging or diminishing your client’s work. Therapy for therapists can be integral to your work helping others.
Sand Tray can be tremendously helpful as a tool to help you tell your therapist the story of a trauma in your childhood. When you are in therapy for childhood trauma, there are times where you will feel that words are inadequate to convey the experiences that you had. If you don’t feel that your therapist understands your experience it might be difficult for you to move on. Using the Sand Tray to create a scene can help you feel “seen” (pun intended). Feeling that you have been able to convey an aspect of your story can be tremendously relieving.
The Sand Tray is only one of the many tools that I use with my clients to help them tell their stories. When you are struggling with finding words to tell your story, I will likely suggest that you create a scene in the sand tray. I will usually suggest that you go to the shelves with figurines and choose any objects which you feel relate to the story that we are discussing. After you place the figurines in the Sand Tray, I will ask you to describe the meaning of the scene.
I specialize in helping adults heal from the effects of childhood trauma. Some of my clients find the Sand Tray is an integral tool to support their healing journeys.
If after reading all of this you’re interested in exploring individual therapy with me, please schedule a free consultation call with me so we can talk over your specific situation and see if working together makes sense for us both.