The Power of Sandtray Therapy
Sandtray therapy is a creative method that does not feel “childish,” although it can be used with children, adolescents, AND adults! A person is simply invited to create a world in the sand using “images” (also referred to as miniatures) that are provided by their sandtray therapist.
When a person places their miniatures into the sand, it is a representation of their inner world. As a sandtray therapist, I am able to join with my client and their process, ask questions, and sit with the silence that often takes place while creating a sandtray. It is a beautiful process to witness.
I collaborated with my trusted colleagues to create a list of the Top 10 Reasons to do Sandtray Therapy:
1) “Sandtray provides felt safety and therapeutic distance through the powerful use of metaphor.” – Marshall Lyles, LPC-S, LMFT-S, RPT-S
Sandtray therapy is all about the use of metaphor. It allows you to tell your story and share your inner world without the vulnerability of talking about yourself in first person.
2) Sandtray therapy offers healing for past experiences of pain and fear which may be outside of conscious awareness.
According to Rita Grayson, LCSW, RPT-S of SageSource Learning Center, “difficult life experiences that overwhelm our nervous system are stored in our bodies and brains, possibly outside of conscious awareness. Talk therapy can only access the things that we already know about our personal histories. Sandtray therapy calls on our eyes to select the miniatures and our hands to place them.”
She adds, “many times when we encounter difficulties in our present-day life, we are actually under the influence of implicit memories from the past that have been awakened. The use of sandtray offers an invitation to bring these memories into conscious awareness where they can be healed in the presence of a sandtray therapist.”
3) Sandtray therapy connects both sides of your brain.
The left side of our brain contains logic, words, language, and science. The right side of our brain contains pictures, stories, early memories, and creativity.
Melissa Watts, LPC, RPT of Growing Hope Counseling, LLC said, “I always tell my clients (no matter the age) that the design of our brains is amazing and working in the sandtray allows both sides of your brain to connect. This enables the creative and logical parts of your brain to work together to heal.”
4) It is a powerful tool to process difficult life experiences.
Alyssa Caldbeck, LISW, RPT explains, “sandtray accesses the right brain and connects to the left brain where in the case of trauma, the left brain has shut down. Sandtray helps create a visual picture for you to be able to work through feelings, thoughts, and behaviors you can’t verbalize or communicate.”
Essentially, sandtray therapy helps the brain get back “online” after it has shut down due to experiences of fear and pain.
5) ANYONE can benefit from sandtray therapy.
Sandtray therapy provides access to a deeper level of consciousness and allows you to process past and recent events. Although it involves seeing a licensed therapist who is trained in sandtray, you do not necessarily need to have a mental health diagnosis to benefit from sandtray therapy.
6) Sandtray therapy takes the pressure off of traditional “talk therapy.”
“Sandtray therapy “goes in the back door” to get at the early feelings as well as trauma that can’t always be easily accessed in talk therapy. It feels less threatening than talk therapy because you get to “create” and talk only as little or as much as you want or need to” explains Karen Timmer, LPC, RPT of Affinity Counseling Center.
Melissa Watts adds, “sandtray therapy helps when you don’t know what to say, when you are stuck, or just when you need calm. It can be used with all ages and takes the pressure off of talk therapy.”
7) You can create a picture without being an artist.
Through the use of miniatures provided by your sandtray therapist, you can literally “create a world” without having to be artistic! Your sandtray therapist should ideally have miniatures in different categories such as people, animals, transportation, buildings/ structures, home items, nature, and fantasy.
8) Sandtray therapy has many benefits for your personal growth.
Through the process of creating a world, you can make connections, apply problem-solving skills, and create new insights. All of this (and more) by simply placing miniatures into the sand and processing the scene with a sandtray therapist!
9) It feels like you’re dreaming… while you’re awake!
Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS of Wonders Counseling explains, “It’s like dreaming while you’re awake. Sandtray therapy shows what’s in the unconscious. Just as whatever is rumbling around in your subconscious can rise to the surface in your dreams, so it is with the sandtray experiences.”
10) Sandtray therapy is great for ALL AGES!
Not only is sandtray an effective method for children, but it is fun! Sandtray therapy helps children freely play out their experiences and resolve life challenges when they may not have the words or ability to adequately express their thoughts and feelings.
Adults and adolescents
Sandtray therapy provides an effective and safe way to share your inner world. It provides access to a deeper level of consciousness and allows you to “play out” your fears, hopes, dreams, and experiences.
And there you have it! 10 reasons to see a sandtray therapist. If you are near Stamford, CT and are interested to see if sandtray therapy is right for you, please contact Liz to schedule a free consultation!