Sand Tray Therapy
Sand tray is a unique form of therapy that makes use of symbols, imagination and the creation process. The physical quality of the sand can be comforting and healing, while the use of the miniature figures can be reminiscent of play. While it may seem childish to use sand and miniatures to share experiences and express feelings, it is a powerful therapeutic tool that is commonly used with adults. Similar to art therapy, sand tray therapy can help adults express thoughts and feelings when words alone are not enough. The ability to create a world in the sand and gain distance from it physically and metaphorically allows us to also gain perspective, safety and the ability to reflect. Many clients are surprised by the objects and figures they choose to place in their sand tray and often discover things about their lives and relationships they had not been able to articulate but needed to express.
At Sage House, we offer sand tray therapy for all clients, but understanding it may be a new experience for many. We listen carefully to you and tailor our approach to your comfort level. You may find you enjoy using the sand tray and it is helpful in moving your therapy forward. You may wish to use it occasionally when feeling “stuck” or you can decide it isn’t for you. All of these variations are completely acceptable and there is no one “right” way to approach our work together.
How Does Sand Tray Therapy Work?
Our office offers a certified sand tray, which is built to specific proportions, features natural, sanitized sand tray and a blue interior, which represents water. Our office has a large collection of miniatures that include: human figures, animals, objects from nature, vehicles, fantasy and other important symbolic objects for use in the therapy. The purpose of the miniatures is to represent all the elements of life: what is beautiful and ugly, good and bad, comforting and frightening, happy and sad. The sand tray therapist is trained in providing an accepting and safe environment that allows each client to explore and create a world to reflect an inner feeling, current or past experience, memory or traumatic event. Some clients ask if they need to be creative to work in the sand tray. There is no requirement to make the sand tray creative and your therapist will help to guide you through the process. There is also no right or wrong way to create a world in the sand and each person’s creation will look different. Some people like to use only the sand while others will make use of the blue “water” symbolized at the bottom of the tray. Many will include some miniature objects to create their worlds. The therapy happens both during the creation as well as after. Depending on what feels most helpful, you and your therapist will explore the world that has been created and the story that goes with it. It is during this time that profound connections and healing can occur.
We know from recent research studies that some of the most significant traumatic experiences in our lives are stored in the visual parts of our brains. We create images in our minds of an experience before we put words to this experience. In trauma, the visual experience is stored as a flashbulb or fragments often with painful emotions that we struggle to put into words. This is where the sand tray process can activate the nonverbal, allowing you to access emotions as well as find new solutions and healing through the creation and sharing process. It is through this process that clients often report increased self-expression, self-awareness and a greater depth of communication and self-compassion.
Is Sand Tray Therapy Right for Me?
We know that sand tray is particularly helpful for adults who struggle with perfectionism, a history of trauma or loss, family or relationship issues, and those who just feel “stuck” in life, work, relationships and/or patterns of thinking or behaving. If you struggle with any of the issues sand tray therapy might be particularly helpful to incorporate into your treatment plan. Your therapist will make recommendations based on your therapy goals to create a customize plan for you. Want learn more about how sand tray therapy helps address your specific concerns? Visit our blog post to learn more by clicking here.
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We’re not perfect. And neither are you. And that’s okay. We celebrate what your version of wellbeing looks like instead of fitting you into a predetermined box.
Therapy doesn’t always have to be heavy and serious. It can be light and playful and funny, and we take pride in cultivating an atmosphere of joy amidst transformative healing.