Sandtray is a projective technique that allows us to tap into the conscious and unconscious places of ourselves, so that we might strengthen our inner resources, leading to a more peaceful, integrated existence.
The Process for Clients
“Wow, this can help me in ways I’ll never know.”
Sandtray is a projective oriented method. As Carl Jung might look at a dream, you can look at everything in the tray as representing a part of the whole person. As a client builds their world, they are able to choose miniature items that have conscious and unconscious meaning to them. The way they choose, place, arrange, and even show interaction between items in the tray is a way they are expressing the inner parts of themselves without saying a word. This is a unique opportunity to work out conflicts while being accepted. This unconditional acceptance of personal innerworkings can cause deep, internal changes that positively affect our ability to be present and ready for each day.
“I’m having fun!”
Most clients find the process of sandtray to be quite enjoyable. Being able to build and “play” in the sand can be very appealing. For children, it is developmentally aligned with their age group, which can make it easy for them to participate. For adults, the process can result in a relaxed state of well-being. Who says work can’t be fun?
Control Over Environment (World)
“I can make things happen.”
Many clients have had experiences at home or school in which they have felt they have little or no power over themselves or their environment. By allowing the building to be generally without limits or rules, participants are given the opportunity to be in charge. There is no judgement about the world created or the process taken. This experience can build confidence & strengthen the ability to make decisions and exert control.
Expression With & Without Words
“I’ve been wanting to tell you.”
Sandtray is an avenue in which feelings, ideas, and experiences can be expressed solely by using the symbolism in miniatures, without the dependence on words. The miniatures become the avenue for communication about the landscape of the inner world. The use of miniatures gives an opportunity to increase ability and confidence in organizing ideas. Pre-verbal or non-verbal experiences are also welcome in the tray as they find their way into the making of a world. Clients have a safe place to express emotions without having to say a word.
Opportunity to Practice Time Management
“I just have one more thing…one more thing to do before I am done.”
This is an appropriate time to observe how time management is used. There is usually a time limit, set by the length of the sandtray session, and perhaps a goal or idea that the client may want to complete during that time. There is an opportunity to work through any conflicts or barriers that might arise in the areas of organizing and pacing..
Successful Production / Accomplishment
“Yay, I’m doing something right!”
There are many demands and messages given to us about how things should be done and when. As a world is built, the client has the opportunity to experience something different; to build a world that will not be judged. There is no right or wrong way to build. This is an opportunity to accomplish a goal and be creative with confidence.
“I get to make decisions.”
Sandtray is generally non-directive. This means that space, materials, and a safe environment are provided, without many rules or direction. The process is generally client-directed. The therapist is there to witness the process and to ensure the space is safe. After basic guidelines are given, the client builds what they need to build. On occasion when a topic is suggested, the freedom to create rests in their hands. Sandtray is a very personal process and is honored when the client is in charge.