Sand play therapy is considered a valuable form of psychological therapy by many mental health professionals. It gains popularity steadily worldwide. What lies behind this popularity?
History of Sand Play Therapy
Dora Kalff created this expressive therapy known as sand play therapy in the 1950s. Dora Kalff was a student of Carl Jung’s and a Jungian analyst from Switzerland. Drawing on Jungian ideas of child development, symbolism, and the unconscious, she created the technique to interact with children in a non-verbal and creative way. She began using the strategy with her clients and published other works. Other therapists quickly adopted the technique, and it began to spread globally. Play therapy, a branch of child psychology, and treating various mental health disorders are currently among its most common applications.
The theory originates from Jungian psychology and the study of how children grow and develop. The therapy involves using a sandbox and miniature figures to help clients convey their ideas, feelings, and experiences nonverbally. The therapist then uses this image as a springboard for further inquiry into the client’s subjective experience.
For the most part, children are the target audience for sand play therapy, which is intended to help them process and gain insight into their feelings and experiences. However, we must acknowledge that Sand Play Therapy nowadays is popular with children and adults alike.
How did Sand Play Therapy become so popular?
When clients participate in sand play therapy, they can express themselves in a safe and non-threatening environment without relying on words. Those who have trouble verbalizing their emotions may benefit from using miniature figures and a sandbox to create a visual picture of their inner world. But even if people don’t have difficulties expressing themselves verbally, creating and not having to talk is often refreshing. Working with miniatures in sand tray offers an opportunity for something new to enter the field of awareness and to be welcomed and processed; it allows an opportunity to direct attention to the object or a scene and to understand a problem or a challenge from a different angle.
The popularity of sand play therapy can be traced back to a combination of factors. One is the increasing acknowledgement of the relevance of creative and symbolic approaches to understanding and processing emotions in therapy and the importance of nonverbal forms of expression. As the process of making the image in the sandbox is creative and symbolic, it can be therapeutic in and of itself. The therapist can get insight into the client’s inner world and feelings, thoughts, and experiences through sand play therapy, which can then steer the treatment session.
Further, sand play therapy’s success with kids has paved the way for its widespread adoption in child psychology. It also provides a secure space for kids to process their feelings and learn from their experiences when they encounter challenges.
The broad adoption of sand play therapy owes much to the findings of numerous research investigations. Anxiety, despair, trauma, and behavioural disorders are just some of the mental health areas in which sand play therapy has been demonstrated to help in children. According to research, adults have also benefited from sand play therapy, particularly those who have experienced traumatic events or who have trouble expressing themselves verbally. In addition, people who struggle with conventional talk therapy can benefit from this approach.
Another reason for sand play therapy’s widespread acceptance is its flexibility; this form of treatment may be modified for use with any age group, from toddlers to adults. In addition, it can function as a single treatment or as part of an overall therapeutic regimen.
Last but not least, sand play therapy is becoming more common as therapists learn to incorporate the technique into their sessions. More and more people will be exposed to the approach as more therapists receive training.
Clients can get insight into the link between their outer environment and their inner world with the help of sand play therapy and an appropriate therapist. They gain the confidence to make real-life adjustments after effecting shifts in their fantasy world. It’s best to consult with a registered mental health professional to determine if sand play therapy is best for you.
At Blue Horizon Counselling, we offer sand play therapy, among other modalities. Children and adults who have experienced traumatic events in the past, including post-traumatic stress disorder and acute post-traumatic stress, and people who experience grief and loss, anxiety, and depression, can benefit from this approach. If you are struggling and seeking help, reach out today by calling 0403866997 or clicking here to arrange your initial appointment.
We look forward to working with you and helping you achieve your goals.
Kalff, D. M. (2003). Sandplay: A psychotherapeutic approach to the psyche. Temenos Press. 5-15.
Harter, S. (1977). A cognitive-developmental approach to children’s expression of conflicting feelings and a technique to facilitate such expression in play therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45(3), 417-432.
Homeyer, L. E., & Sweeney, D. S. (2016). Sandtray therapy: A practical manual. Routledge.