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About Sandplay Therapy

What is Sandplay Therapy?

Sandplay Therapy is a powerful, multidimensional, experiential, therapeutic tool, utilising a small tray of wet or dry sand, in which clients create scenes using miniature objects (symbolic and archetypal materials, artefacts and figures) in order to explore, gain awareness of and better understand many different aspects of their internal world.

What happens during Sandplay Therapy?

During Sandplay Therapy, the role of the counsellor is to focus on the client, and support whatever meaning emerges from the sand and the placement of miniature figures.  Clients generally use their hands to move, mould and shape the sand.  As their hands move through the sand, energy is released. The use of sand and the placement of miniatures offers clients a symbolic way of expressing feelings and viewing their lives.  Clients are always in control of what they will or will not reveal to themselves or to the therapist.

How does Sandplay Therapy work?

Sandplay works by activating the innate healing powers of the individual’s unconscious.  Our psyche has a self-activated, in-built, corrective, healing drive and organising principle (inner healer) which from time to time, is in need of release or expression.

Unpleasant and negative experiences in the psyche that need to be released or healed might include blocked feelings, unresolved conflicts, specific and non-specific dissatisfactions, negative beliefs, attitudes and scripts about self, defensive attitudes towards the world, agitation, frustration, disappointment, anger, sadness, hurt, disconnection and unfulfilled needs.  

Along with these so-called negative aspects, there may also be positive qualities, skills and talents that have similarly not been developed or expressed. 

So that our psychological health can progress, it is essential that these negative and positive energies find expression.

What are the benefits of Sandplay Therapy?

A critical benefit of Sandplay Therapy is that it can be a far less threatening approach than talk therapy because it offers clients the option for non-verbal expression.  This option for non-verbal expression provides a safe and gentle way to communicate visually, that which can be too painful to put into words.  

Often, children do not have the capacity to articulate or name what is happening to them.  This is because they are limited by the extent of their language and vocabulary, as well as their capacity to describe intensely emotional experiences.  

This difficulty and limitation of language is also valid for adults who may also have difficulty expressing their feelings verbally in times of emotional distress.  Sometimes, there simply are ‘no’ words for an individual’s feelings.  

Similarly, adults who find it difficult not to speak incessantly (using language to intellectualise and avoid issues) may find that sandplay helps to discourage the rational mind, and allow the unconscious to tell its story.