Sandplay therapy was developed in the early 20th century as a means of doing psychotherapy with children.
We have since learned that Sandplay is excellent for adults, because it bypasses our stuck places and facilitates deep-order healing and change.
Doing Sandplay is rather easy. The client selects figures from the surrounding shelves and makes a scene or a world in a small tray of sand. The sand can be wet or dry and can be shaped. When the tray is finished, I look at it together with the client and may ask if there were any associations while doing it, or perhaps a title or a story. I then take pictures for further study.
We do not interpret the sand trays as that would interfere with the neurobiological processes that are set in place when making a tray. While Sandplay looks very simple, it is one of the most profound psychotherapeutic tools. Over the course of a series of Sandplays the brain is gradually re-wired to a healthier, higher functioning state and changes become observable in the client’s functioning.
Sandplay works directly on the brain. With recent discoveries in neurobiology and learning, we now know that the senses of vision and touch, guided by the inner centering principle of the Self, directly address the client’s loss and trauma in Sandplay. In addition, the Self guides the client to choose and arrange the images used in the tray. These images work in the pre-verbal, pre-rational parts of the brain to bring about healing and change.
Other forms of work in the sand tray are designed to force awareness about an issue directed by the therapist. For example, the therapist may say, create a tray showing how your boss affects you at work. They then work together verbally to bring more attention to the issues. Jungian Sandplay is not limited by the therapist’s perception of the root causes of the client’s issues. Sandplay done with a well-trained and experienced therapist, takes the client directly to the underlying causes of their symptoms and issues. It then works from there to bring about healing and psychological change.