Sandtray Therapy, an expressive therapy that involves creating a “world” in the sand with miniature figures, provides a soothing, sensory experience that calms the mind, is healing, cleansing and empowering, and brings about a sense of inner peace. Some experiences and feelings are difficult to put into words. Sandtray Therapy allows for the expression of emotional toxins and helps children work through otherwise complicated emotional material so they inevitably feel lighter, happier, and refreshed.
The “world” in the sand tray comes from within but it feels separate; therefore, it feels safe. It is easier for a person of any age to talk about a scene in a sand tray (a rabbit that is hiding behind a bush, possibly frightened of a nearby tiger) than it is to speak directly about his or her own life. At a subconscious level, connections are made between the sandtray world themes and creator’s own life, but these do not need to be pointed out, highlighted, or discussed in order for healing to take place. The healing connections are processed on a subconscious level.
Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology who developed concepts that still influence Sandtray Therapy today, once said, “Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has wrestled in vain.”
It is not uncommon for those who have completed their first sand tray to remark that they felt a surprising emotional release after the experience. Of course, it typically requires repeated Sandtray Therapy sessions to fully express an experience and/or work through deeper issues.
When they are creating a world in the sand, even younger children seem to intuitively known that they are engaging in something meaningful, powerful—something that matters. It is for this reason that one of the guidelines of Sandtray Therapy is that clients never clean up their world or witness the figures from their world being put back on the shelves while they are still in session. The world remains in-tact. Children frequently like to take pictures of their worlds to keep.