Sandplay Therapy

Sandplay therapy is a therapeutic approach that combines elements of psychology, symbolism, and creativity to help individuals explore and process their emotions, thoughts, and inner conflicts. It involves a structured, yet open-ended process in which clients use a tray filled with fine sand and a diverse collection of miniature objects and figures. During a sandplay therapy session, clients create scenes, landscapes, or dioramas in the sand, arranging the objects in a way that represents their inner world or emotional experiences. These creations serve as a form of non-verbal communication, allowing clients to express and externalize their subconscious thoughts and feelings.

Sandplay Therapy


Sandplay therapy, rooted in the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, was developed and refined by Dora Kalff in the mid-20th century. Kalff, influenced by Jung's concepts of the collective unconscious and archetypes, introduced sandplay as a therapeutic method in the 1950s. She recognized the power of symbols and the unconscious in healing and self-discovery. In the 1960s, Kalff's work gained recognition in the United States when she trained therapists in sandplay techniques. The therapy evolved as practitioners integrated elements of Jungian psychology, child psychology, and play therapy. The use of a specifically designed sand tray, miniature figures, and a therapist as a witness became standard practice.

Focus theme / core-concept

The core principles of sandplay therapy include: Non-Directive Approach, Symbolism, Integration of conscious and unconscious aspects of the self, leading to greater self-awareness and personal growth, Safety and Containment.


Sandplay therapy offers a range of benefits that clients can experience as a result of engaging in the therapeutic process. While some of these benefits align with the specific goals of sandplay therapy, there are also unique advantages that clients may gain from this therapeutic approach. Here are some benefits of sandplay therapy:

1. Clients often experience catharsis and emotional release through the act of creating and interacting with the sand tray. The physical and symbolic representation of emotions can provide a profound sense of relief and release.

2. For clients who struggle with verbal expression or have difficulty articulating their emotions, sandplay provides a non-verbal means of communication. This can be especially beneficial for children and individuals with communication challenges.

3. Working with the sand and figurines engages the senses, offering tactile and kinesthetic experiences. This sensory engagement can be soothing and grounding, helping clients connect with the present moment.

4. The repetitive and meditative aspects of arranging sand and figures can have a calming and self-soothing effect, reducing anxiety and stress.

5. Some clients may use sandplay as a means of exploring spiritual or transcendent themes, connecting with deeper aspects of their identity or seeking a sense of purpose and meaning.


The goals of sandplay therapy may vary depending on the individual client's needs, but there are several overarching objectives commonly associated with this form of therapy:

1. One of the primary goals of sandplay therapy is to provide clients, especially those who may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, with a non-verbal means of communication. The sand and figurines offer a creative outlet for clients to express their thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences.

2. Sandplay therapy allows clients to externalize and explore their emotions in a safe and symbolic way. Through the creation of scenes and images in the sand, clients can identify and work through complex feelings, including sadness, anger, fear, and joy.

3. Sandplay encourages clients to access their unconscious thoughts and feelings. As clients observe and reflect on their creations, they gain insights into their inner world, enhancing self-awareness and self-understanding.

4. While sandplay therapy is non-verbal in nature, it can indirectly enhance clients' communication skills. By gaining insight into their inner experiences, clients may find it easier to communicate their thoughts and feelings verbally in subsequent therapy sessions or in their daily lives.

5. Clients often engage in symbolic play and storytelling within the sand tray. This exploration of symbols can help clients make sense of their experiences, beliefs, and personal narratives.


Sandplay therapy is a therapeutic modality that involves using a tray filled with sand and a wide array of miniature objects and figures to create symbolic scenes. These scenes serve as a means of non-verbal communication, allowing clients to explore and process their inner thoughts, emotions, and conflicts. Therapists trained in sandplay use various techniques to facilitate the therapeutic process. Here are some key techniques used in sandplay therapy:

1. Selection of Miniatures: Clients are encouraged to select miniature objects and figures from the available collection. The therapist may provide guidance or allow clients to choose intuitively.

2. Arranging the Scene: Clients use the sand and selected miniatures to create scenes or landscapes in the sand tray. The arrangement of objects, their placement, and the overall composition are crucial aspects of the process.

3. Silent Expression: During the creation of the sand scene, clients typically work in silence. This allows them to immerse themselves in the process and access their unconscious thoughts and feelings.

4. Witnessing and Reflecting: The therapist plays the role of a witness, offering empathetic presence and reflection. They may ask open-ended questions to encourage clients to explore their experiences further.

5. Symbolic Repetition: Therapists pay attention to any repetitive themes, objects, or symbols that appear in a client's sandplay scenes. These repetitions may hold special significance and can be explored further.

6. Sandplay Trays: Therapists may provide different types of sandplay trays, such as wet and dry sand, to offer clients varied sensory experiences.