Play Therapy Sand Tray Therapy for Families in Therapy Technique

by Play Therapy Student
(Atlanta )

Ifound the sand tray therapy experience to be very fascinating. I have always been curious about how the sand tray works after hearing other students mention it in conversations.

Prior to this sand tray therapy class, I was a bit skeptical about how much you could interpret from this modality. After seeing the demonstration in class, and then working on one at home, I can see the true benefits of this work.

I began my sand tray at home by placing the octopus in the middle which is my father-in-law. I placed him there because he is always stretching himself out to help his family.

This help can be good and it can also cause trouble. I then placed the tiger to the right of the octopus, which represents me. I once identified myself as a tiger because I see them a strong animal that are also big cats.

This represents me because I see myself as both characteristics so I stayed with the tiger as myself.

The soldier placed above me is my husband. My husband always wanted to be in the Army, but his father talked him out of it. Instead, he followed my father-in-laws advice and works in the same industry as he does.

At times this causes a lot of drama in our family. I also see my husband as strong and a trooper. He has been through a lot in life. My son is placed on my other side as the lizard. He loves the color green, as the lizard is. I see little lizards as creatures that have great speed for their size and are very spry. They are also curios and imaginative for finding places to crawl into.

My son has a great imagination and his curiosity is unreal. I placed both of these close to me as they are my inspiration for everything and we are a tight bunch together.

We are all also close to my father-in-law which is why we are closer to the octopus than other animals. With that being said, we try to distance ourselves from other family members because they create drama in the family.

I then placed the rhinoceros in front of the octopus as my mother-in-law. She is actually my husband’s step mother, his mother passed away when he was twenty years old. My mother-in-law likes to place her nose into everyone’s business. She also tries to cause rifts between family members. Therefore, the rhino’s nose looked like someone poking their nose where it does not belong.

The snake and the rat are my two sister-in-laws. One is always in the shadows snooping and finding out ways to gossip about other people. This is why I placed the rat in the corner. My other sister-in-law is like a snake. She will slither around to find information and use it to against you or to gain some form of attention from my in-laws.

This comes back to the octopus. My father-in-law does try to spend time with all of his family and sometimes helps out in one way or another. My husband and I never ask for help, he is just a generous person and wants to help his family when he feels up to it.

My two sister-in-laws are score keepers. While my father-in-law does for each of us equally, they try to gain from his generosity. Therefore, they both try to find out if any of us have gotten something they have not received themselves.

This only causes drama, and my husband and I always feel conscious about what we say when we are around them because we do not participate in this behavior.

When reading the symbols or dream dictionary, the octopus represents being entangled in difficult matter. This is fitting because it is hard to deal with family members who are so intertwined and difficult at the same time. I feel anxious and frustrated at times with my husband’s family, but there is no easy way to solve the problems they can all cause. I guess this is causing me more problems than I thought since it showed up in my sand tray therapy tray!

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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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