What is Sandplay® Therapy

Sandplay is hands on psychological work. It is a powerful therapeutic technique that enables the psyche's (the soul, mind, or personality of a person) natural capacity for healing. In a "free and protected" space provided by the Sandplay therapist, a client creates a picture of his or her inner world using sand, water, and miniature objects. In this way Sandplay helps honor and illuminate the client's internal symbolic world and provides a place for its expression within a safe container, the tray filled with sand.

Sandplay has the possibility of leading the client into layers of experience that are often pre-verbal and long forgotten to the conscious mind. With sufficient time and understanding, this
experience can lead to the development of a new way of being
in one's life.

In Sandplay, a scene is made from figures and objects placed in a tray of sand. The construction of the scene is guided almost entirely by the choices made by the hands of the client, while the therapist watches nearby in respectful silence.

Developed by Swiss Jungian Analyst Dora Kalff , Sandplay is a form of therapy that gives both child and adult clients the opportunity to portray, rather than verbalize, feelings and experiences often inaccessible and/or difficult to express in words. Sandplay also provides a balance to the extraverted, verbal, and outer-focused everyday world. It can lead to a more open and integrated way of life. In the midst of a culture that rushes toward outward success, beauty and the future, the simplicity and depth of Sandplay helps maintain a place of internal integrity as well as a sanctuary for contact with the symbolic world out of which can emerge a healing experience.

A basic premise of Sandplay therapy is that the psyche possesses a natural tendency to heal itself, given the proper conditions. Similar to how our physical wounds heal under beneficial conditions, the psyche also has an instinctual wisdom that emerges when left free to operate naturally in a protected environment.

The process of creating sand scenes enables the client to nonverbally express both Conscious and unconscious material. Emotions and difficulties can be worked through and Aspects of these conflicts or personality issues can be integrated. The result can help bring clients to a state of “wholeness” and balance. Continued processing and awareness of emotional material can bring deeper and more meaningful spiritual understanding of us and our world at the different stages and challenges of our lives.

Suggested Reading

Kalff, D. (1980). Sandplay®: A psychotherapeutic approach to the psyche. First published in English as Sandpla®y: Mirror of a child's psyche. [H. Kirsch, Trans.]. San Francisco: Browser Press, 1971. New edition available at Temenos Press

Friedman, H.S., & Mitchell, R.R. (2008). Supervision of Sandplay® therapy. London: Routledge.

Mitchell, R.R., & Friedman, H.S. (1994). Sandplay®: Past, present and future. London: Routledge.

Turner, Barbara A. (2005). The handbook of Sandplay® therapy. Cloverdale: Temenos Press.

Weinrib, E.L. (1983). Images of the self: The Sandplay® therapy process. Boston: Sigo Press. New addition available at Temenos Press

Watch the video below by Dr. Gita Morena, PhD, LMFT (STA/ISST Certified Sandplay® Therapist-Teacher) for an explanation and demonstration of Sandplay®

For more information about Sandplay® Therapy and therapist listings:

• (National)
• (Colorado)