Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha

by Martha
(Sand Tray Therapy Class Student)

Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha

Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha

Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha Picture 2 Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha Picture 3 Sand Tray Therapy Class Final, Theory, Student # 2, Martha Picture 4

Martha’s Sand Tray Therapy Theory: Searching for Authenticity in the Sand

Influenced by Jung (1954), Martha's sand tray therapy theory addresses authenticity, focuses on the inner self (soul), and targets women in specific. My sand tray therapy theory and the lesson plans may also be extended to men and adolescents of both genders.

Stephen Armstrong (2009) spoke on his videos about a disconnection between people’s feelings and their bodies based on the notion that many people do not want to know the truth and they invest much energy in keeping themselves from the truth about themselves.

With that in mind Martha’s sand tray therapy theory aims to address the need to embrace reality and search for authenticity in the sand tray. I would apply my theory to my population (women) with the help of the three symbols of the Hawaiian culture: the Lei, the Holoku and the Luau.

The Lei represents spirituality (spirit of Aloha), the Holoku represents respect for history (our family history), and the Luau represents abundance (blessings).

Key concepts of Sand Tray Therapy Theory:
• Stay with the feelings
• Acknowledge your history
• Embrace your spiritual self
Lesson Plan # 1: Holoku. The Holoku symbolizes Hawaii’s respect for history
Title: Acknowledging your history
Population: Women
Materials: Sand tray, sand, miniatures, images, dictionary of symbols
• Ask the client to bring a photo of herself when she was between 3 and 8 years-old or draw a picture of herself
• Prepare the sand tray and display the miniatures in full view
• Have client place her photo in the sand tray
• The goal of this lesson plan is to embrace one’s history and to get in touch with ancestral archetypes that may be present in the collective unconscious
• Remain silent while the client is creating the scene
• When the client is finished creating the scene, ask the client: What would you like to say to this little girl in the photo or what do you think she may want to tell you?
• Next, ask the client to find miniatures to represent the women in her family who have impacted her life in one way or another
• Have the client discuss the scene
• Have the client title and date the scene

Applying Lesson Plan # 1 to myself: Photo # 1 shows a miniature of a female Hawaiian wearing a Holoku—a formal dress worn by Hawaiian women dating back to the early 19th century when Hawaii was ruled by a monarchy.
Respect for history is an integral part of Hawaii. Respect for history is equally observed in many families. I have placed a photo of myself from the time I was eight years old.

I have also placed other miniatures in the sand to represent other women in my family who have impacted my life one way or another: my mother is represented by a rose because her middle name was Rose.

Both of my grandmothers are represented by a rock that reads “Welcome” because that is the way I always felt when I was in their company. One of my aunts is represented by a tree because she is still living, and my other aunt is represented by a shell symbolizing her love for the beach.

This lesson plan may be particularly important for Hawaiian women because the Hawaiian culture is significantly influenced by old traditions and the foundation of continuity.

Lesson Plan # 2: Lei. The Lei is a symbol of the Spirit of Aloha, which translates into harmony— with self and others
Title: Embracing the spirit
Population: Women
Materials: Sand tray, sand, miniatures, images, dictionary of symbols
• Prepare the sand tray and display the miniatures in full view
• The goal of this sand tray is to embrace one’s spirituality, which is about connecting with oneself, one’s body, a Higher Power, and others
• Ask client to choose miniatures or images which symbolize her spiritual self and the degree of harmony she may perceive in herself and with others
• Have your client place these miniatures and images in the sand tray
• Observe in silence while client is creating the scene
• After the scene has been created, ask your client to talk about the symbols she has selected
• Have the client title and date the sand tray
• Encourage the client to journal her thoughts and feelings about creating and processing this scene

Applying Lesson Plan # 2. Photo # 2 shows a Lei symbolizing the Spirit of Aloha. A cross in my tray symbolizes my Christian beliefs and spirituality. The shells surrounding the cross symbolize my love for peaceful meditation.
This lesson may be very meaningful for Hawaiian women because of what the Lei represents—these are garlands made of flowers, nuts or shells that trace back centuries earlier when the first settlers came to Hawaii. It symbolizes harmony and agreement.

Lesson Plan # 3: Luau. A Luau represents a sense of abundance
Title: Self-awareness of one’s blessings
Population: Women
Materials: Sand tray, sand, miniatures, images, dictionary of symbols
• Prepare sand tray and display all miniatures in full view
• The goal of this tray is to raise self-awareness of one’s blessings
• Ask client to select miniatures or images that either represent having grown up with abundance (financial, emotional or both)
• Encourage your client to talk about the experience of creating this scene in the sand
• Have client title and date the sand tray
Applying Lesson Plan # 3 to myself: Photo # 3 shows the abundance I have in my life

This lesson may be very important to Hawaiian women who have grown up organizing and attending luaus with family and friends. A luau is a feast to the senses and an opportunity to become aware of one’s blessings.

Armstrong, S. (2009). Sandtray therapy: A humanistic approach. Dallas, TX: Lucid Press.
Jung, C. (1954). The archetypes and the collective unconscious: Collected works of C.G. Jung,
vol. 9 (part I). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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*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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