I was introduced to sand tray work during a weekend workshop I attended years ago lead by Violet Oaklander, the woman who wrote, “Windows To Our Children.” Although her work was geared toward the treatment of children and adolescents, she encouraged us to explore this work with our adult population.
My sand tray is a large wooden box that sits on top of a stand that supports it. The sand can be left dry or you can add varying amounts of water to create different textures. Altering landscapes (hills, valleys, flat desert and lakes) can be formed by moving and shifting the sand in accordance with what fits the client’s story.
Miniature figures can be used from a collection I have in the office. Clients discover that they can be buried or placed on top of the sand, inside a pool of water or moved around to form stories that create real or imagined situations. Sand tray lends itself to creative expression that doesn’t require dialogue that may otherwise feel forced or awkward. It’s especially effective with reluctant adolescents by easing them into non-verbal communication that helps to engender trust and safety in the therapeutic dynamic between client and therapist.
Upon completion, the client will be asked what’s happening or what’s about to happen in the story they created in the sand. As the story unfolds, the client is invited to pay attention to thoughts and sensations in their body, a process that will lead to greater trust and an overall sense of balance. Sand Tray is a creative, sensory process that often opens up more awareness and insights to situations and events that have caused the client inner conflict and struggle.
Note that I use other forms of play therapy that are effective when treating children and adolescents, such as: drawing, games and story telling.
Areas of Specialization
Psychotherapy License LMFT
001074 New York