„Sandplay is not a panacea or a cure-all. It is a sensitive projection screen, based on earth itself and the concrete three-dimensional perceived, objective world. From this objective, wholistic base a subjective expression is created by the patient, from conscious and less-than-conscious levels that may, when ritual proceeds to its highest levels, prove to be healing.“
Origins of Sandplay
Sandplay Therapy is a creative, nonverbal method in which one can build a world with miniatures in a sandtray. This method was developed in Switzerland by Dora Kalff (1904 – 1990) and is now used with people of all ages in many contexts. Two sandtrays are available at waist height, one with wet sand, one with dry sand. The size of the trays is approximately that which can be seen in one glance. The sides and the bottom of the trays are blue so that heaven or water can be depicted. Shelves full of miniatures are also available.
Conscious and Unconscious
Creative and symbolic play with sand, water and possibly with figurines effects a connection between the conscious and the unconscious. Psychic content finds a form, becomes visible and grasp-able and can thus – in the free and protected space – be transformed and integrated. This creative experience allows for psychic growth and healing and helps us to be able once again to live creatively.
In sandplay one can build with or without figures, however one fancies. In this way, images can emerge spontaneously and playfully and become concretely visible. While we do not interpret the images directly, client and therapist look at the sandplay scene together and „take a walk in the picture,“ so to speak.
Sandplay can further healing on many levels: not only is the process of individuation rooted in the symbolic attitude (after C. G. Jung) within a containing intersubjective therapeutic relationship initiated, but sandplay works also through letting one´s self fall into playing in silence, through the hands simply doing while releasing cognitive control, through the touching of the sand, through the energy of the symbols. Sometimes intense emotions are mobilized.
Beyond Verbal Therapy
This method is hard to describe in words, especially for adults; children, on the other hand, usually grasp immediately what is possible. Our experience is that sandplay can not only enrich therapy but also can give essential impulses which would not occur in this way in purely verbal therapy.