By: Christina Knowles, Infant & Early Childhood Program Therapist

Sand Tray Play Therapy is a therapeutic modality that is used with children, adults, families and couples. Sand Tray Play Therapy was first brought to light by Margaret Lownfeld and was continued on by a Jungian analyst Dora Kalff. From there, it was molded by other’s such as Kay Bradway, and Gisela De Domenico, and in 2015 the Association of Sand-play Therapy (AST) was formed.

Touchstone Health Services Sand Therapy

Touchstone Health Services has been providing Sand Therapy since 2009. This therapy is utilized across various different programs and services that Touchstone offers to its members. There are four sand trays between the Touchstone Mesa, Avondale, and Main (Phoenix) Centers. Touchstone’s Therapists have completed four levels of training to be certified in Sand Tray Therapy.

Sand Tray Box

This classic sand tray box measures at 28 1/2 x 19 1/2 x3 and the color blue is painted on the inside sides and bottom. Our client’s use miniatures which are neatly organized on shelves. There is a wide range of categories such as people, animals, plant’s, minerals, transportation, etc. These figurines end up representing symbols and images in their life. They are organized on the shelves in groups. During sand therapy, it is important that the figures are placed back in these group and in an appealing way. It is therapeutic if the builder could go back to that same object with ease, and it becomes more calming and less chaotic.

Sand play Therapy can give the client a chance to process their feelings, thoughts, questions or past trauma in a “free and protected space” (Dora Klaff). By focusing on the sand tray and being allowed to process these past events it allows them to say so much without saying a word. The therapist acts as a “witness” during the process, at times using tracking or reflections of feeling or thought. Sometimes they may invite the client to expand on the story that is being told, other times’ the therapist may just hold the space. During or after the process some therapist may take photos to track the client’s progress.

There are numerous benefits of Sand Tray Therapy. It allows freedom of creativity, processing events without using words, it is nonthreatening and nonjudgmental. If you have any questions about Sand Tray Therapy visit the Association for Sand Tray therapist or The Association for Play Therapy.