Sandplay therapy is a creative form of expressive therapy that uses a sandbox and a large collection of miniatures to enable a person to explore the deeper layers of the psyche. By constructing a series of “sand pictures, ” a person is helped to engage in the process of self-discovery, identify conflicts and find solutions, so a sense of resolution or healing can occur.

Sandplay therapy establishes a safe and protected space, where the complexities of the inner world are explored and integrated into the psyche for emotional healing. Working in the sand can open the door to the unconscious world. It creates a visual representation of the psyche’s contents and reveals unconscious concerns that are inaccessible in other ways. As materials contained in the unconscious emerges visually and symbolically, it is integrated into a person’s sense of self and can be activated to elicit behavioral changes.

Sandplay therapy can be done with dry sand or wet sand. The client selects miniatures from the shelves that are placed in the sand to create a scene. During the creation of the Sandplay scene, the therapist becomes the “silent witness” to the process. The dual nature of play, which both reveals and disguises at the same time, means that issues are revealed symbolically, through image and metaphor, to the trained therapist.

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Why It Works

In Sandplay, a visual image is produced that is the product of both the unconscious mind that selects the figures and the conscious mind that creates the scene in the sand. Sandplay can be seen as a form of active imagination that taps into the essence of language through the transformation of experience into symbols with the use of miniature figures, which can be manipulated and expressed. Emotions are not only expressed but become concrete. Each figure used may represent an actual person or persons, an idea, a feeling, or situation. Sandplay allows the unconscious to lead, and healing happens from within. Carl Jung believed that “deep in the unconscious there is a natural wisdom, given the proper conditions, for the psyche to heal itself through images.”

Who Can Benefit from Sandplay?

In Sandplay, a visual image is produced that is the product of both the unconscious mind that selects the figures and the conscious mind that creates the scene in the sand. Sandplay can be seen as a form of active imagination that taps into the essence of language through the transformation of experience into symbols with the use of miniature figures, which can be manipulated and expressed. Emotions are not only expressed but become concrete. Each figure used may represent an actual person or persons, an idea, a feeling, or situation. Sandplay allows the unconscious to lead, and healing happens from within. Carl Jung believed that “deep in the unconscious there is a natural wisdom, given the proper conditions, for the psyche to heal itself through images.”

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