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Sand Tray as a Therapeutic tool
This is a reflective tool which can be profoundly effective for people of all ages, as well as being easily accessed by children. It is a form of expressive therapy, similar to incorporating drawing exercises into counselling sessions, but instead of drawing a picture, one builds up a picture in the tray using figures or miniatures.
That’s to say, miniatures of everyday objects such as people, animals, buildings, plants, mythical creatures, symbols, the elements, etc. are selected as a conscious or unconscious representation of aspects of one’s life, mind or emotional state.
This makes it possible, by means of these figures and the arrangement of the sand, to set up a three-dimensional visual world corresponding to one’s internal world.
Sand Tray can be a good starting point, or a way to pause one’s thoughts by just putting “everything on the table,” without having to deal with it either immediately or all at once. It can also be a lighter, more circumspect approach and can be used directively or non-directively.
“I am always surprised at how simple and yet how profound each sand tray is.” J.F.
“The Answers are over the Bridge…”
“Oasis…it’s safe to play now!”
The scenes created usually bring welcome clarity and understanding about a situation, perhaps signposting ways to make changes or move forward, as well as helping to release old patterns and blocked, painful emotions. This in turn, can help to resolve conflicts, remove obstacles and gain increased self-acceptance.
Sometimes people say:
“I feel stuck“, or “There is too much going on“, or “There’s so much to deal with I don’t know where to start”, or “I cannot bear to talk about it but want it out of my head“.
As in other creative therapies, Sand Tray may help people to manifest in the sand what they would otherwise not be able to vocalise or address in traditional talking therapy alone.
Having used this therapeutic tool both with clients and as a self-supervision tool myself, I never cease to be amazed at its powerful potential for revelation and the insights that can be gained.