by Julie Berger
(Atlanta, GA, USA)
My First Sand Tray Therapy Experience--Student #2
When assigned to make a sand tray therapy bridge using toothpicks, I immediately pictured in my mind the bridge that is in Monet’s garden at Giverny and sought to make mine similar. I piled up the toothpicks to create some depth then as the glue began to dry, I placed a box under the bridge so that it would form an arch. Last, I installed railings on the sides because I wanted people, animals, or objects that crossed my bridge to be safe. I enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and was pleased with my final product!
I chose to place the bridge in the center of my sand tray. What I am depicting is my diagnosis of a brain tumor last year. I have placed myself on both ends of the bridge and am demonstrating what life is like for me before and after I cross the bridge. Before crossing, I am standing among a “rocky road.” This is when I was informed of my diagnosis. In front of me is a mean guy laughing at me. After having a son diagnosed with a brain tumor 11 years ago and helping him fight for his life, how likely is it that another member of the same immediate family would receive a similar diagnosis? I placed a large Joker in one corner and can imagine him saying, “The joke is on you.” In the water on both sides and under the bridge are sharks. There is also a dragon, an alligator, a mean lizard, and two bad guys. These characters all represent the danger that can happen if I look down and view my situation with anger, disdain, and hopelessness.
Crossing the bridge is an ambulance which represents a medical emergency. In front of the ambulance and at the top of the bridge is a brave dog. This dog represents my attempt to remain brave. The dog is in front of a hurt character and is helping it across. At the end of the bridge is a medical kit that represents finding and getting the right treatment.
After crossing the bridge, I am sitting among a happy scene where I am smiling and surrounded by bushes with blue flowers which represent calmness. This is the place I would like to be. I placed a cross near me which represents having faith to ease any worry. There are two horses that are covered with blankets and have on blinders. These represent trusting that I have a loving God, family, and friends that will help me if I have future complications or need assistance. My husband is the knight in shining armor standing in front of me to help me and give me support and encouragement. The mailbox shows my love for communicating with people. The heart on the mailbox along with the additional heart sitting in the sand represents my desire to show love to those around me. The book near me represents my desire to continue learning, complete my Masters degree, and become an inspiring counselor.
The corner near me is filled with items to keep me smiling and remind myself to continue to do fun activities even among the unfortunate news. The knight in this section represents my son who is always joyful and loves to help brighten my life when I am down. Near my son are golf clubs and balls to remind me to take time to play golf with my son, something we love to do together. The girl is my daughter. We love to bake together and she loves cupcakes so the table of cupcakes represents my celebration that my brain tumor is not cancerous and I desire to continue to enjoy life. I also placed a barrel of monkeys to remind me to remain joyful and take time to laugh.
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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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