Sand Tray Therapy Class Idea: Build Your Own Sand Tray Therapy Bridge? Why should I do this? What does it mean? See why here:

by Martha
(A Sand Tray Therapy Student)

Martha's Sand Tray Therapy Bridge

Painting my sand tray for sand tray therapy class with a special paint for plastic called fusion was a real treat. The fluid texture of the paint made me feel as if the brush were an extension of my arm. It felt a lot like oil painting, and thus, reminded me of an oil painting class I took several years ago--a time when life seemed simpler than it is today.

I began creating the scene in the sand tray for my sand tray therapy class by placing larger shells around the tray. Shells are a feminine symbol. Then, I worked on building a bridge by taping toothpicks together making two parallel lines. This was a sand tray therapy class assignment. It is an important part of the sand tray therapy process for each sand tray therapist to begin...Why you ask?

Because a bridge represents a connection between one side of something and the other side. The bases of my bridge are small pieces of wood. I linked the two parallel lines of the bridge with one another by cutting a few toothpicks a little smaller and landing them carefully across the two lines.

My sand tray therapy bridge resembles a primitive log bridge--the first type of man-made bridge,which is believed to date back to the 7th century. The water underneath the bridge symbolizes the potential for transformation, which may occur in counseling. The sand itself represents a search for safety. I attempted to simulate a labyrinth in the sand as we learned in class. A labyrinth resembles a mandala, and as such, represents a sacred place of undisturbed peace.

Once the scene was created, I began to process the scene. In this phase, I realized I had laid larger items on one side of the bridge symbolizing what I perceive to be a large and complicated world. I separated that world by a bridge unconsciously placed in an implict diagonal line in the sand.

On the other side of the sand tray therapy bridge there is a much smaller and simpler world. In this smaller world, I have a palm tree representing growth and a miniature female figure next to it representing myself. A sand dollar I obtained more than 20 years ago rests to my side keeping me company. Sand dollars represent the integration of sand and sea.

Jungian analyst Dora Kalff argues that the entire sand tray therapy represents the sand player's unconscious (the part of the psyche that is out of conscious awareness for the most part). Both Kalff and Kay Bradway, a fellow Jungian analyst suggest that diagonal lines in the sand symbolize either an unconscious inner conflict or a conflicted relationship.

In my case, the diagonal bridge in this scene appears to symbolize the possibility of an inner conflict I may hold between having to function in a large, complicated world, and my need to escape to a peaceful place and meditate about the positive things in my life, which I have listed inside the Bon Bon orange box placed near the center of my world.

I plan to hold a snap shot in my mind of this small, peaceful world I created in the sand as a symbolic "Bridge over Trouble Water," and a tribute to the Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 hit song.

More Ideas for Play Therapy Link:

More Ideas on Play Therapy

How to Use The Sand Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Link:

More Ideas on Sand Tray Therapy

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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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