What is Sandtray Play Therapy?

Sandtray therapy has been around for almost 100 years. It was first developed by Margaret Lowenfeld, a British Pediatrician and Psychiatrist. But actually, it was the children in Dr. Lowenfeld’s playroom who took miniature figures and put them in her sand box, creating “worlds” in which they played with life situations that were troubling them. Recognizing the wisdom of these children, Lowenfeld developed protocols and named her intervention the World Technique. In the years that followed, many clinicians continued to build on Lowenfeld’s work, perhaps most notably Dora Kalff, a Jungian Analyst. To this day, the Jungian roots of symbolic play are at the heart of Sandtray play therapy.

Today’s Sandtray Play Therapist will provide three things to clients. First, he or she will have a large assortment of miniature figures which can be used to embody a full array of life experiences. Second, there will be trays filled with sand in which the client can create a “world”. And most importantly, the Sandtray Play Therapist will have undergone comprehensive training. Sandtray Play Therapy is not learned in a day or a week, but rather it is an engaging process of personal and professional development which begins with the first training and continues to deepen and unfold over a lifetime!

Who Benefits from Sandtray Play Therapy?

Sandtray Play Therapy has long been established as a therapeutic technique for adults and adolescents as well as children.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” That statement captures the usefulness of Sandtray Play Therapy with adult and adolescent clients. Using miniatures in the sandtray provides access to a deeper level of consciousness and allows the client to “play with” this deeper understanding and apply new insight to solving life problems.

With our growing understanding of brain science, we now know experiential therapies are preferable in the treatment of trauma. Sandtray Play Therapy is a sophisticated experiential approach that does not feel “childish” and therefore is attractive to adults and adolescents in treatment for trauma-related challenges.

Children are naturally drawn to Sandtray Play Therapy! The non-directive, creative method is an effective and safe way for children to share their inner world. Children under the age of 11 do not have the thinking and language skills to engage in adult-like problem solving. Sandtray Play Therapy is one of many play therapy techniques used to treat children. The following video demonstrates why children need play therapy instead of traditional talk therapy.