Sand Tray Therapy (also known as Sand Play Therapy) is used to help individuals who have experience a traumatic event. Sand Tray Therapy is often used to treat children or adolescences and adults. Sandplay may also be family or group therapy.
Play Therapist or Child Therapist may use Sand Tray Therapies to treat and diagnose many mental illnesses. Experts believe that Sand Tray therapy can reduce anxiety while increasing emotional expression. Combining both art therapy and play therapy the Therapist provides a Wooden Sand Tray with Lid or a Plastic Sand Tray with Lid, often the inside is painted a blue to represent water and sky. The client is given Sand Tray Miniatures to create their world. Sand Tray Miniatures can be larger or smaller in size and are from a wide variety of “worlds” they include: dinosaurs, mythic creatures, farm animals, exotic animals, rocks, tools, cars, doors, buildings and fences or barriers.
The client arranges these miniatures as they wish within the sand and create a world unique to them. The Therapist observes and does not usually interrupt during the Play Therapy Session. The client then creates their world within the sand that represents internal struggles or obstacles they may be facing within their life. After the session is complete the Therapist then goes over the arrangement of the sand tray miniatures and what it may represent as interpreted by the Therapist.
Sand Tray Therapy allows for the client to create a world within the sand in a safe non judgmental space. This allows the client to release any deep seated negative emotions by allowing them to express themselves through play and feel safe in the presence of the therapist. Sandplay is a positive experience that allows for the client to have a pleasureful sensory experience.
A study in Korea explains how three children were exposed to sandplay therapy after witnessing domestic violence. After six sessions of Sandplay therapy, these children improved emotional and behavioral conditions dramatically, and also reduced negative self expression and increased positive self expression.
Sand tray therapy has been proven in cases when children have Aspergers and by developing their emotional support and aiding their interpersonal and psychological well being. Research suggest that Sand Tray Therapy helps young children who have yet to talk by helping work through pre verbal trauma.
What to expect during a session of Sand Play Therapy?
It is normal to have questions as you or your child attend a session of Play Therapy. It is welcomed to ask the Play Therapist questions about Sand Tray Therapy. Sessions may last 30-60 minutes sessions and may be scheduled bi weekly. Your Therapist may greet you in the beginning of the session and then will provide the client with an empty sand tray and access to sand tray miniatures so the client can begin the session. The Therapist may ask to take photos of the Sand Trays to see how the sand tray layouts progress and sessions move along. The Therapist will go over the session and explain why certain animals are placed in certain areas, collaboratively the client and the Therapist find meaning in the Sand Tray.
Where can you find a Play Therapist?
Many Therapist are specially trained for use of Sand Tray Therapy in their practices. Sand Play Therapists of America
provides a list.