Critique of Sandtray Therapy Videos - Mercer Student #5

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Decatur, GA)

Critique of Sandtray Therapy Videos

The sand tray therapy video, found at, was interesting in that the sand tray therapist playing the client really seemed to become involved in what she was doing in the sand, therefore truly becoming a client. The therapist verbally tracked what was happening in the sandtray and did some parroting. The therapist also followed the client closely while miniatures were being selected. I found the following a little disquieting; it seemed like having a shadow and a bit intrusive. I was wondering if it would be better as a therapist to just sit back and watch as the client makes selections, perhaps taking notes, and then join the client at the tray.
The other videos were by Dr. Steve Armstrong at These videos were sent out in a series of emails, and I really had to watch for them (and not delete them), because their address line did not reflect Sand Tray Institute. I really liked the video about keeping the sessions in the here and now and going with the emotions of the client. I actually used that technique in our sandtray class in play therapy.
The sand tray therapy videos were very informative, however; Dr. Armstrong needs to work on the sound quality. His wife, Debbie, who was acting as the client, was very hard to hear and understand. She needs to be miked. I was also a little concerned about him using his wife, in that she becomes very distressed during the sessions. If any of that distress stemmed from their relationship, she would not be free to express that. Also, if I had to pay for these videos, I would expect a professionally produced product.
I also watched a sandtray therapy video by Dr. Barbara Turner. I thought she did a really good job of explaining sandtray theory and sandtray history. She described sandtray therapy as bringing the symbols of dreams into the three dimensional world with the miniatures.
What has continued to amaze me with sandtray therapy, through watching videos and participating in our class (and in play therapy class), is how quickly the sandtray and the miniatures bring the psyche into the physical here and now. Classmates, including myself, and clients on video will start out choosing miniatures in a seemingly random way, and once in the sand, upon questioning by the therapist, it turns out those miniatures represent or symbolize issues in that person’s life.

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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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