Sand Tray Therapy Paper: Student 4

by Student 4
(Mercer)

Sand Tray Therapy Paper
So far I have learned a lot about sand tray. I have learned about the construction of a proper sand tray which I was not aware of before. I had the misconception that you could just get a container and put some sand in it and let the kids go. While this method has not been ineffective when I have used it in my internship, the use of a large tray with the blue bottom makes much more sense to me.
I have learned that the large tray allows the children to have a full scope of imagination and freedom, where as I had had complaints that my previous tray was too small. I also learned about the blue bottom acting as water and sky allowing the client to have a sense of calm and freedom. Since I have brought my new large blue version to practice my kids have been very satisfied with the new and improved tray.
I have learned that something so simple as a blue tray and play sand could be so elegant and healing. Sand tray can take a person, child or adult, to a very deep level. The use of miniatures and sculpting of sand gives the subconscious the ability to run free and come to the surface for the individual making the tray. When the tray is made it gives the individual the opportunity to take a look at what is going on inside of them.
I have also learned how to properly interact with the client while they are building the sand tray. Before I would ask the client questions during their construction of the sand tray, this would not cause them harm or discomfort, but I have learned it is better to allow them to construct everything quietly. I agree with this method completely, it allows the clients the quiet space to build and allow themselves to flow freely into the tray.
I have also learned how to conduct the session after the sand tray is built and how to close the session at the end. Before the client and I would take down the sand tray together before the end of the session. I have learned that this can be harmful in that in a way it is as if we are destroying the client’s own personal world. None of my clients have reacted negatively but I can understand how this process could be very uncomfortable. I did notice that when I had a session with one of my children his sisters wanted to play in the tray with him he got very defensive and yelled at them, his tray was very personal to him and he did not want his sisters to touch his world.
I also learned about the mistakes that counselors make when working with sand tray therapy. Sand tray Steve stated that there are six mistakes that counselors usually make. The ones that stood out most to me, were that it is always best (in the humanistic theory) to stay in the present instead of shifting the focus in to the past. It is better to keep the patient in the moment and be present with what is in front of the so they can really look at what is going on. Another mistake that jumped out at me was switching the focus on to someone in the tray instead of focusing on the client. If the therapist focuses on the figures in the tray it gives the client the chance to step out of themselves, which defeats the purpose of the sand tray entirely. If the therapist brings the focus back to the client, they can get a closer look on how the client is really feeling. Lastly one that shocked me that most was the ignoring of the client’s nonverbal cues, if the therapist is not fully present with the client and does not pick up on their cues there is a lot of information lost. This lack of attention can also cause a lot of harm to the relationship with the client and trust could be lost.
I learned from Barbara Turner that sometimes the client does not know why they did what they did in the sand tray, and that they did not have to have an explanation. She taught me that this fact is okay and that there is no need to try to push something out of the client that they may not know. She reiterated that the majority of the time the person is displaying unconscious processes, due to this fact the person may really not understand what they have put in the sand.
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