What Is Sandplay?

sandplaySandplay is a form of creative expression that can help people of almost any age connect more ably with their inner world.  The sandplay process is similar to dreaming, except that the sandplayer is awake and there is a trusted, caring witness—the therapist—who experiences the sandplayer’s “dreaming” process as it is unfolding.  Sharing the process with the therapist makes looking into one’s inner world less daunting and is often in and of itself quite healing. 

A sandplay room has shelves with many miniature figures to represent all aspects of human life—minerals, plants, animals, people, buildings, vehicles, water, candles, and mythical and archetypal figures to symbolize the opposites of good and evil in the human psyche.  Two sandtrays are available to serve as “stages” for constructing creative scenes from the collection of miniatures.  The process of creating a sandplay scene is different every time and enables the sandplayer to express nonverbally what may be difficult to access verbally. 

sandplaySandplay is particularly helpful for children because a child’s thinking is pictorial rather than abstract.  Making sand “pictures” gives the child a way to live with and communicate what is going on “under the surface” that they cannot know or express cognitively.  Teens and adults can self-reflect and verbalize what is in their inner worlds, yet even teens and adults can find in sandplay an avenue for communication with parts of themselves that are too deep for words. 

Sandplay provides an avenue for sounding the depths of the soul, bringing a richer, deeper relationship to the inner self.  Feelings, memories, wishes, dreams, intentions, and thoughts may all become clearer as a result of listening to the voice of the psyche as expressed in a series of sandplays. Conscious and unconscious aspects of the person can harmonize, bringing healing and positive change.