Reflections on Videos and Readings for Sand Tray Therapy Class

by 10804025
(Atlanta GA)

Reflection on Video and Readings for Sand Tray THerapy Class:
Steve Armstrong indicated that the advantages of sandplay include helping client get unstuck, engages clients in deep work with the tray almost acting as a cotherapy. He cautioned on using sandplay only when the therapist is sure of the client’s trust. In his opinion, unfriendly miniatures should not be arranged beside friendly miniatures, and he mentioned the need for the therapist to process client’s feeling in the moment before discussing the scene created by the client. For him, the process needs to be kept in the moment. He delineated the process of sandplay to include the setting up phase prior to client arrival, the creation phase and the processing phase.
Watching the video by Steve Armstrong was very inspiring, the counseling session was quite revealing in the way the client arranged her Sand Tray with a lot of things that can be processed. Armstrong focus was more on the here and now, but since my theoretical underpinning focuses on multigenerational work and family of origin processing, I believe the past can also be processed effectively in the here and now. The client current state of function seemed to be strongly impacted by experiences from her family of origin. A particular question Armstrong asked the client about why she thought other people see her as an Angel may be rephrased by asking the client in what way she views herself as an Angel. Another important point from this video is the advice not to focus on helping the client with coping skills at the expense of deeper exploration.
Sandplay with Barbara Turner was quite different from the way it was done with Steve Armstrong. Barbara believes that interpretation of the sandplay by the therapist is influenced by the therapist worldview and psychic state. Meaning it is possible for two therapists to differ in their interpretation based on their world views. From Barbara’s perspective, It appears that her interpretation is highly influenced by her spiritual world view and a strong focus on resolving issues psychically. Sandplay is based on the theory that given the right environment to heal and develop, human psychically moves towards healing. This is referred to healing of the unconscious.
Barbara stated that a therapist does not need to understand everything going on in the sandplay, but needs to be engaged in achieving understanding through learning what is happening in the client’s sandplay. She also warned the therapist about evoking psychotic episodes during sandtray sessions. Barbara work does not involve as much processing with the client as seen with Steve Armstrong. She seems to focus more on allowing the sandtray process itself bring about the healing not relying on conscious understanding. A lot is achieved in her session through the unconscious work.
The videos with Jill Weadick on the other hand show more processing with the client than seen with Steve Armstrong. There appears to be a lot of tracking and reflecting of the client’s expressions, reactions and verbal communication. I particularly like the question about the client sitting with their world to look at what they would like to change, move or modify. Exploration is achieved more here through verbal processing as opposed to the quiet reflective and almost spiritual nature of Barbara’s sessions.
The Chapters reading focuses a lot on the power of self-healing without interpretation and describes the various ways sandplay can be used with verbal analysis. In particular, I find the use of the left and right brain and matriarchal and patriarchal metaphors in explaining the process of sandplay and interpretation quite interesting. The fact that sand play uses the principle of regression which encourages healing, and verbal analysis focuses on progression with a thrust towards consciousness, gives a powerful perspective in helping the therapist conceptualize the use of sandplay. Sand Tray practice in the book appears to be more in line with Barbara’s Turner’s method of doing Sand Tray therapy from her videos.

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