Sand Play

648092_web_R_K_B_by_Lupo_pixelio.deSand play therapy is a process intended to facilitate the emotional healing and full personal development of adult, adolescent, and child clients. The therapist utilizes a safe and encouraging environment that mat sometimes involve dream work, talk therapist, or other methods of opening to the imagination. The client is given the opportunity to choose from tiny objects, figures, stones and other natural material in order to create in a sand tray a picture of her inner “world”. The scenes that take shape in the tray are comparable to the symbolic images that occur in dreams. Immersed in childlike play, the client loses the inhibitions of conscious awareness and enters the world of the unconscious. The activity is multidimensional-using eyes, hands, body, mind and spirit-and thus has a profound resonance with the client. The therapist ”witnesses” the scene without direction or interpretation, responding only to the client’s comments. A “sacred space” is held allowing the individual to connect with deep psychic contents in her own space and time. Psychological analysis or interpretation may occur at a later date, if so desired.
Children have always delighted in playing in the sand, bringing their inner and outer worlds together through imagination. Different cultures have also used sand in rituals of visioning. The Dogon medicine men of Mali draw patterns in the sand and later read the paw prints left in the night by the desert fox to divine the future. Tibetan Buddhist monks spend weeks creating the Kalachakra sand mandala, which is used for contemplation and initiation into Tantric practices. In Navaho symbols of Healing, sand painting ceremonies, in which images of world order, are created to invoke the healing powers that bring the psyche of the people back into harmony with the universe.

Benefits of sand play

590711_web_R_K_B_by_Gerd Pfaff_pixelio.deA means of self-discovery, healing and integration
A transformation or redirection of blocked energy
Access to the childhood world of imagination and play, re-awakening our own creative nature
A means by which children and adults, unable to articulate their feeling and experiences, can find expression and integration
Safe entry into the deeper archetypal, mythic and transpersonal realms of the psyche
An activation of our natural, self-healing capacity
An opportunity for a creative non-rational experience, as a balance to society’s overemphasis on the ego’s intellect
Frees creativity, inner feeling, perceptions and memories, bringing them into outer reality and providing concrete testimony
Utilizes most of the senses, providing an expanded experience
Regresses the client to past experiences, allowing healing and integration
Creates bridges fro the unconscious to the conscious, the inner to the outer world, mental and spiritual to physical, nonverbal to verbal thus revealing hidden material
Invites spontaneous play, no right or wrong way
Allows defences to diminish because it is non-threatening
Functions as a natural language for children and a common language for use with diverse cultures and developmental stages
Empowers the client by allowing movement from the position of victim to creator and by impacting her/his own course of therapy
Can be used for children, adults, couples, families, groups

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