Sand Tray Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that is sometimes referred to as Sandplay Therapy. This type of Play Therapy is predominately used with children and adolescents. Sand tray therapy allows the child to construct his or her own sphere using miniature toys in sand. The scene created acts as a reflection of the client’s own life and allows him or her the opportunity with the help of a trained therapist to resolve conflicts, remove obstacles, and gain acceptance of self.
The Nature of Sand Tray Therapy
The idea behind Sand Tray Therapy is that it is a natural part of the human brain. Similar to our physical wounds that heal under beneficial conditions, our psyche has a natural tendency to heal itself upon proper guidance.
It comes very natural for children and adolescents to play and express themselves non-verbally. Sandplay is just that; a ‘hands on’ approach which becomes a powerful therapeutic method for facilitating the psyche’s natural capacity for healing.
A trained Sand Tray Therapist always ensures the space is free and protected for the client to feel safe. In this environment the child creates a form of his or her own world using miniature objects, sand and even water. It helps honor and illuminate the client’s internal symbolic world, providing a place for expression within a safe container and ultimately a safe environment.
With sufficient time and understanding, a sand tray experience can lead the client into layers of experience that are pre-verbal and long forgotten to the conscious mind. Through the tangible emergence of personal and archetypal symbols in the tray in a safe environment, the client moves toward a sense of balance and wholeness.
Sand Tray Therapy for Trauma, Neglect or Abuse
Many children are unable to verbalize emotional states, particularly in the face of trauma, neglect, or abuse. The non-verbal nature of sandplay therapy and the familiar medium of sand can help children achieve feelings of comfort and security. With little instruction from the therapist, the child is free to play and develop his or her own expression of situations. Oftentimes the children will experience a sense of independent play and will begin making assumptions and behavior changes without cues from the therapist. This method of therapy serves as a valuable and powerful outlet for children and an incredibly insightful method of gaining access to traumatic experiences.
Sandplay therapy is also very useful in the treatment of children who have been sexually abused. These children will often remain silent for fear of harm or even death. They are often threatened and are in highly anxious states when they come to therapy. The relaxed and interactive setting of sandplay therapy provides them the initial arena of safety that they need to move toward healing.
Sand Tray Therapy Benefits
It goes without saying that Sand Tray Therapy is a fantastic and very effective way for children to process their world who might not know how to express themselves otherwise. Here are a few great benefits of sand tray therapy:
- A structured environment in which client metaphors can be created and explored.
- A visual representation of the client’s issues that helps you and the client continue to focus on core issues throughout the session. Clients typically look repeatedly at the symbols in their scenes even after they have explored them, which provide an external guide to return to the issues.
- A deeper experience for the client. Clients often stop themselves and avoid a full experience of their feelings. Sandtray therapy facilitates a deeper exploration of self.
- Stuck clients require an indirect method of facilitating therapeutic movement. When clients look at their own metaphors they can bypass defenses and move through resistance.
For a free consultation to see if Sand Tray Therapy is right for your son or daughter call 801-361-2237.