Many of us have early childhood memories of making sand castles at the beach, or playing in a sandbox at the park playground. That peaceful memory of being alone in your thoughts as you mold the sand and create something unique is a clue to the effectiveness of sand tray therapy as a therapeutic tool.
Although sand tray therapy is very effective for children who aren’t quite mature enough to express their feelings and experiences in words, or children who have been victims of abuse or neglect, sand tray therapy is also effective for adolescents, adults, and even couples.
Don’t underestimate it! At times when you may feel “stuck” verbally expressing yourself in therapy, sand tray therapy may be a useful outlet for non-verbal expression.
What Is Sand Tray Therapy?
Sand tray therapy is similar to art therapy in that it’s a type of therapy that encourages hands-on self-expression. Sand tray therapy should not be confused with sandplay therapy. Sandplay therapy requires certification, and provides little to no interpretation, whereas sand tray therapy is a more flexible type of therapy that does provide some interpretation of the client’s creations.
In sand tray therapy, a therapist will have a blue sand tray, the blue representing the sky or a body of water. The therapist may have both dry and moist sand available. The therapist will also have a wide selection of miniatures such as human figurines, objects of folklore or fantasy, objects of nature, buildings, vehicles, etc.
Sand tray therapy occurs in conjunction with talk therapy. Not every session will involve sand tray therapy. Your therapist may take photos of the worlds you create, and work with you to analyze and discuss your choices after several sessions, or they may do so after each sand tray session.
How Can Sand Tray Therapy Help Me?
As Carl Jung said, “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” Sand tray therapy allows your inner psyche to create a unique three-dimensional world within a safe container; it may incorporate long forgotten or buried memories.
If you struggle with perfectionism or have difficulty expressing yourself verbally for any reason, sand tray therapy can help you open up and access deeper self-awareness than you might achieve with talk therapy alone.
If sand tray therapy sounds like it would be a useful tool for you, and you would like to work with a licensed professional that specializes in sand tray therapy, please call my office today so we can schedule an appointment.