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What is Sandplay Therapy?

When experiencing challenges in your relationship, either from adjusting to your new family dynamic, communicating, or even post-natal depression, there are a variety of therapeutic techniques that can be used to help uncover the underlying issues and to heal. One of the techniques we use at From 2 to 3 is Sandplay Therapy, and I’m going to give you an idea of how this therapy works and how it could benefit you.

What is Sandplay Therapy?What is Sandplay Therapy?

It’s a therapeutic technique that harnesses the psyche’s natural capacity for healing, using sand, water, and mini objects to tap into a person’s inner world – in a limited, defined and safe space. The “sandplay” creates a physical manifestation of the client’s imagination – it is the bridge between their inner world and making that world visible.

This therapy is for both adults and children, despite sounding like something only for a younger mind.

The sandplay is a deep process; it gets to the inner core or the unconscious mind. Dealing with both the past and future, Sandplay Therapy can uncover things that are buried, and will also ultimately show what is underlying the challenges being experienced right now.

Now, the crucial element to Sandplay Therapy is the therapist. Known as the “container” in this therapeutic technique, the therapist provides the all-important safe environment for the client’s exploration.

Sandplay is not a method of therapy, in and of itself. It is a tool in the hand of the artist whereby the content of imagination can be made visible and actual. It not only facilitates therapy but also gives a way of studying the healing and growth process.

How does the therapy work?

Sandplay utilises a small tray of wet or dry sand, in which clients create themes using miniature objects as a way to represent their internal and external world, non-verbally.

The client has the sand tray in front of them and makes shapes in the sand – the sand is the third dimension. It’s their own ‘landscape’ listening to their inner voice – creating mountains, rivers, roads, people, animals, etc. The client then places the objects and figurines in the tray, creating a narrative of their inner world. ‘A picture paints a thousand words.

Once the client is finished creating their world, the therapist will ask questions about various parts of the created world. For instance, if there were any memories, feelings, or other associations experienced while they were making the world (“playing”). The client may have answers or they may not, that’s perfectly ok.

What’s happening here is that as the client is playing, the psyche is changing. By creating this world and placing the objects, neurological changes are occurring. This work takes place over a series of trays – known as the “process of change”. It’s a deep, unconscious process – what’s happening here will eventually become conscious, it just takes time to work through the process. Bringing it to consciousness comes with the help of the therapist talking it through.

The images precipitate change. The Sandplay affects neural changes in the brain that prepare the individual to receive, or accept the content as real. The image changed how we expect, or anticipate our reality to be. It alters old perceptions and activates new ways of perceiving.

Which treatments does Sandplay Therapy help?

Sandplay can be used in a variety of treatments, for example relationships and family issues, post-natal depression, fears, anxieties, and, any unresolved pains, hurts and experiences. It’s a very gentle technique and can be invaluable in helping to uncover the heart of an issue without the interference of the conscious mind.

If you feel you or your relationship could benefit from Sandplay Therapy, contact me now to find out how can make it a part of your counselling treatments.