When I was first introduced to the concept of Sandtray Therapy I noticed an inner giggle appear at the thought of learning anything about myself from “playing in sand with little toys”. However the experience of anger and rage that came followed by wanting to pick up the tray and throw it out the window while experiencing this therapy as a client told me there was a lot more to this practice than I could have imagined…
My reaction lead me to seek out a Sandtray Therapist whom I saw almost every week for 1 year and now, 5 years later I am passionate about the simplicity and complexity of this work and offer it as part of my practice as a Holistic Counsellor.
As a kid I spent hrs in the sandpit that Dad built in our backyard. I am a single child and with no siblings to join me in the sand I really took myself into and became part of the worlds that I would create there. Today I can see some direct parallels and perhaps this is why I feel so connected to this work.
Sandtrays are a great medium for creating tangible and visible landscapes that appear from within our intangible sub/unconscious realms. Often we have felt senses of something that just doesn’t feel right or comfortable within us but can’t seem to put words to them in order to explore what they are.
In Sandtray Therapy I support you to connect firstly to your body and felt sense of what is moving within you and then invite you to simply place your hands in the sand and let them move without any preconceived thoughts of what you are creating. After an initial exploration of the ‘sandscape’ we then move to the objects/symbols/toys (as they have been called). These objects are simply symbols that mean different things for different people. Things such as feathers, leaves and stones, safety pins, pegs and thimbles to small figurines of Buddha, a cross, a baby or a married couple. Fences and doors that may symbolise barriers, boundaries, gateways to boats & cars possibly symbolising movement, journeys etc… the list is endless, anything that can hold a meaning for someone can be part of a Sandtray object collection. My collection feels very much alive and ever growing.
Once your Sandtray feels complete we then begin to delve into the story that is created in the tray. This story being a part of your inner world that you now have the ability to see, feel, experience and even move around and recreate. I will invite you into aspects of your Sandtray through open questions that prompt you to see your story from different perspectives; the perspectives of the parts of you that are represented in your tray. You may engage in dialogue with these parts, you may discover parts of yourself that have never met each other before or uncover old patterns and beliefs. At this point you have the opportunity to change your tray around, removing parts you no longer need creating more spaciousness, or you may choose new objects to be part of this story that will serve you from that point forward.
As with any form of art therapy, Sandtray work allows you to see parts of you visually and sensually to get to know yourself and your inner world. The advantage is that it is three-dimensional and tangible giving even more depth to your creative experience.
To take your own personal journey in the sand, give me a call to make an appointment or send me an e-mail with an enquiry via the Contacts page.
[Photos in this article are of actual trays I made as a client in 2008]