Sand Tray Therapy Activity: Maslow's Hierarchy Extended Sand Tray

by Play Therapy Student

Sand Tray Therapy Technique Example: Tray #1

Sand Tray Therapy Technique Example: Tray #1

Sand Tray Therapy Technique Example: Tray #1 Sand Tray Therapy Technique: Tray #2 Sand Tray Therapy Technique: Tray #3 Sand Tray Therapy Technique: Tray #4

The first picture in my sand tray therapy technique is what I originally came up with as my hierarchy of needs according to Maslow’s Hierarchy outline. The miniatures at the bottom represent the physiological needs.

I put the greenery or plant there with a foul because to me these are the basic needs that even babies need to be met. The foul is being protected by the plant/tree like a baby needs to be protected and depends on someone else for all of its needs to be met.

Next is the little purple miniature that represents school to me. When I read that safety meant security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, and property I immediately thought of school.

To me these can be accomplished through a good job and that is accomplished through school. Next up is a purple shark that represents love and belonging. I have used this shark miniature to represent relationships before.

Purple is my favorite color so anything purple is good to me, but the shark is dangerous and can hurt much like relationships can. The shark represents the inherent goodness of relationships but reminds me that at times they can be painful.

It can be painful to build and maintain a good relationship. Esteem is represented by the cock. This one was a little harder for me to find a miniature to represent. But when I saw the cock I immediately thought of ‘cock of the walk’ expression. The esteem is the one I struggle with the most. Finally at the top is the happy grasshopper that I have used to identify myself. When I read what the self-actualization meant I felt that all of those applied to me.

On my second sand tray therapy tray I added the foul’s parents. The population I work with reminds me so often that so many children do not have their basic needs met. I find this so sad. It makes me thankful for childhood and parents I have. I also moved the school miniature up because I do not believe that I could accomplish the esteem or self-actualization without my education.

When I came back to my tray I added a rat to the love-belonging stage. This stage has really come to represent relationships to me, whether they be work, school, familial, friendship, romantic relationships. I am developing and cultivating so many relationships in my life right now I am very protective of them.

I felt that the safety stage was left unguarded so I added a police man there to hold that place and represent safety. In my final sand tray I added several other miniatures to the world. To me this was just a reminder again of what I see everyday in children and people who do not get a chance to grow and develop in a healthy environment.

I really enjoyed the extended sand tray for sand tray therapy class! I think this has been my favorite activity so far. It was comforting to have a sand tray to come back to and work on when ever I felt like it. I was also very protective of it and wanted to make sure no one would mess it up. I would love to use this with my clients and see how they grow throughout the therapeutic relationship.

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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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