Stepping into the closet to discover Narnia, is similar to stepping into a Sandplay therapy room. A new world, a symbolic world, filled with mother nature in the form of sand and water, real and imaginary miniatures and a tray for support and containment. This symbolic world allows for healing at a deep unconscious level and transformation for young and mature.
The items on the shelves provide the client with a unique opportunity to explore, create and bring new life and meaning to their self-understanding. The precise meaning of the symbolism and what is created is not of concern to the client, the process as a whole is.
Sandplay therapy is very potent as a therapy for children and adults because it allows a client to actively engage with the miniatures (symbols) for transformation. Carl Jung wrote an entire volume about this very topic. Clients select the miniature from the shelf and it only gets placed within the tray its right. This right is not a conscious decision, it’s a knowing within the body, mind, brain and heart in that instant. Clients will pick up and put down miniatures they love but only the needed ones in that session will be placed within the tray. It stunning to watching a client play with all the possibilities and choose their right for that moment, that session, this time in their lives. The right will be spoken by the client on a conscious level while also having a felt sense of the miniature being right on another level which is without words.
The Sandplay therapy journey can be too confronting and challenging for some as it gives a solid container for diving into the darkness of ones soul and resurfacing changed, refreshed and more complete.
Sandplay Therapy – A Complimentary Therapy to Process Psychology
Where has Sandplay Therapy come from?
It is based on Carl Jung’s psychodynamics and other child and Jungian therapists such as Lowenfield, Klein and Kalff.
It is a worldwide applicable nonverbal therapeutic approach for all ages, which is needed in our brain heavy world. Sandplay therapy is a powerful therapeutic technique as it aids the healing process, develops one’s personality and allows for growth without having to find the ‘right’ words.
Sandplay therapy gives the gift of healing through the combination of symbolic creation and play for an integrated psychotherapy approach. Clients have the choice of either going straight to the tray to begin creating with some (or no) talk therapy towards the end, or talk therapy to start the session and the themes are then expressed in symbolic form in the sandtray.
The sand tray is a specific size, the exact size to fit within the human field of vision, so the client, regardless of age, doesn’t have to turn their head. The sides and bottom of the tray are painted blue to represent water, rivers, lakes, whatever the client chooses. The miniatures are collected by the therapist and if lucky enough (like myself) clients create/make symbols and add them to the collect for others to use and enjoy. Miniatures can be real (humans, pets, animals, dinosaurs, plants, building, vehicles, stones, shells etc or fantasy (fairy tale characters, myths and legends etc)
What a client creates in a scene are symbolic representation of feelings, experiences, unconscious conflicts and so much more. Sandplay therapy taps into psychological depths beyond our conscious awareness and logical thinking, while also being within what we can cope and deal with at this moment. Our unconscious protects us and gives us opportunities to heal. The healing can come from seeing their feelings and experiences formed in the tray, visually presented in a new way, which produces new thoughts and insights and answers.
Analysis of the emerging scene and themes with the tray are not undertaken with the client, so as to avoid the cognitive distraction. What the client sees and feels from the scene is what is important in the session.
Why Sand and not another texture or substance? Dora Kalff created the sandplay tray and utilised sand because symbolically it is strongly associated with eternity and mother-nature. Sand can be worked easily when dry or wet and mostly brings back fond childhood memories. Memories are packages of events and emotions, which are oh so important. Encouraging clients to select items from the shelves is a wonderful experience as they explore new depths, feel enjoyable and challenging emotions linked with seemingly unrelated items from the shelves…i.e a open mouth female hippo for themselves, an alert silver back gorilla for their mother etc, brings a flood of emotion and images from a childhood experience, while the client went into the tray expecting to design a scene about the relaxed, calm and enjoyable weekend they’d just had. As the therapist my understanding of the symbolism is important, but so is the symbolism and representations the client is bringing to the tray they create. I adore learning new symbolism from my young clients as they have such limitless imaginations.
If you wish to get your hands picking and creating your own self-discoveries and healing or if you wish to support your child be more whole, please contact me today about booking an important.