Yes, You Can Make Your Own Sand Tray for Sand Tray Therapy!

Sand tray therapy is a great way to use miniatures and to get clients to open up and let the therapist into their phenomenological world. So why are you  not using it in your therapy sessions?

I encourage my graduate school sand tray therapy students to build their own sand tray to save money. The building process also helps the students bond with their new sand tray as they become sand tray therapist.

The Regulation Sand Tray in sand tray therapy size is: 24 x 30 with a 3-4 inches in depth. However, you can make your sand tray any size you want to.

It is suggested to use this size due to Dora Kalff stating that the eye can visualize the picture in the sand tray better when using sand tray therapy.

What I have found in making sand trays for sand tray therapy is that any size is fine. I have several sizes of sand tray therapy trays in my office. I adore my sand  tray therapy regulation tray, but sometimes it is interesting to see a sand tray in another size, or a rounded shape.

However, if you would like to stick to sand tray therapy regulation sizes then use the directions below to make your own sand tray therapy tray.

It is very easy to build your own sand tray therapy tray. You do not have to spend a lot of money on a regulation sand tray for sand tray therapy. Try building your own sand tray in sand tray therapy.

If you still don't want to build your own you can buy a regulation sand tray for sand tray therapy on this site from a master woodworker. See the link below.  Any way you want to do it is okay!

What I find is that most of my students bond better with their sand tray in my sand tray therapy class if they build it themselves. But they do tend to buy a sand tray therapy regulation tray at some point.

If you do decide to make a sand tray for sand tray therapy and then make a mistake on the first sand tray you can always build more for your sand tray therapy collection.

The key is to use thin (not too thin) wood. You want to be able to pick up the sand tray and move it around with sand in it.

Don't be intimidated. I have a lot of students who have never built anything in their life. They are able to build beautiful sand trays for sand tray therapy if they just try it!

Some students say that building a sand tray for sand tray therapy class  is similar to giving birth! It hurts, but it is worth it.

This also begins the process of building other tools such as a puppet theater or doll house for your play therapy play room!

It is also okay to buy your sand tray for sand tray therapy. Whatever works best for you is the perfect choice! 

Materials bo build Sand Tray Therapy Regulation Tray:


sand paper

blue paint

wood stain


wood glue


screw driver

Directions for Sand Tray Therapy Regulation Tray:

1. Put the sand tray together as a rectangle with the plywood sheet at the base and the craft boards as the sides. Sand the wood down to make the tray smooth.

2. Paint the tray entire sand tray (except for the inside part) with the wood stain. Allow to dry.

3. Use craft glue and nails to secure the sand tray.

4. Paint the bottom and insides of the sand tray with the blue paint. Allow to dry.

5. Cover the entire sand tray with the polyurethane paint. You may wish to use several coats of paint. Allow to dry for a couple of days until the paint has hardened.

6. Add sand to the sand tray once the paint has dried completely.

7. Start using your sand tray on yourself several times a week. You will need to do 25 sand trays on yourself before you begin to believe how powerful sand tray therapy really is.

8. Always seek supervision when you use sand tray therapy with your clients.

Student Example of Sand Tray Therapy Trays

Here are some examples of a homemade sand tray therapy trays from an A+ student.

The "All Example" page on the bottom link has several examples of my counseling graduate student's sand trays they created for their classes.

Observe the thin wood used for this beautiful sand tray! It is sturdy, yet light.

This was the student's first attempt at making a sand tray.

The wood is light yet very durable. Make sure you do not make the tray to heavy or else you cannot move it around.

Sometimes you may want to have a tray that you do not move. In this case you would not care if it was too heavy to move.

Make Your Own Sand Tray to Create Your Own Tools 

See More Examples Page 

Make Your Own Sand Tray to Sand Tray Therapy 

Make Your Own Sand Tray to Creative Counseling 101 Home

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Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.

*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed  mental health professional immediately.

"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.

Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.

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