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What is Sand Tray Therapy?

Sand Tray Therapy is an expressive therapy similar to Art Therapy in that it is non-verbal and uses the imagination, subconscious, and metaphor and can be useful to children, teens, adults, families, couples, and groups. Sand Tray Therapy allows a client to create a reflection of their inner and outer worlds by arranging miniature figures in the sand tray. The “world” created can illuminate new understanding and provide opportunities to resolve conflicts, remove blocks, and explore new scenarios in a way that is unthreatening. This form of Sand Tray Therapy is called “World Technique.” Often, especially with children, the sand tray an ongoing inter active story and can involve the therapist role-playing figures as directed by the child’s “story.” This form of sand tray is similar to Play Therapy.

Children who have experienced trauma often aren’t able to talk about their emotional states. Not only are sand, art, and play natural arenas for kids to feel secure and comfortable, they are metaphoric and natural languages for children. The therapist follows the child’s lead in sand and play, interacting upon request. This allows the therapist to normalize and psycho-educate about emotional reactions to trauma. Independent play or interactive play allow the child to express feelings and their understanding of what happened, while also empowering them with a sense of control and movement toward healing resolutions.