Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) describes sandplay therapy as working “in a free and protected space provided by a trained sandplay therapist, the client creates a concrete manifestation from his/her/their imagination using sand, water, and miniature objects. In this way sandplay helps honor and illuminate the client’s inner symbolic world, providing a place for its expression within a safe container.”
Sandplay therapy was developed by the Swiss psychotherapist and teacher Dora Kalff, and is based on the psychology of Carl Jung. Sandplay provides a visual and non-verbal avenue for the psyche to develop and become whole. The nonverbal approach of Sandplay therapy is particularly useful for identifying and reconciling internal conflicts that manifest as anxiety and depression, as well as penetrating the depths of personality to experience the Self directly. It establishes a safe and protected space, where the complexities of the inner world are explored and integrated into the psyche for emotional healing.
Frequently, this is viewed as “play” and the assumption is this is only for children. This misconception is, in part, born out of the distortion that “play” is only for children. However, the capacity for play is within all of us throughout our life-span. Play is what sparks our creativity and joy. These are experiences often sought out when initiating treatment. Frequently, therapy requires review, re-framing, and resolution of impactful experiences from childhood and one’s inner child. Sandplay therapy accommodates the child within all of us and creates a bridge to allow communication from one’s inner child to one’s adult self; simultaneously meeting the needs of children and adolescents.