Sand Tray Therapy Class: Zen Garden - Jonathan V., Mercer Univ. Student, Summer 2013

by Jonathan
(Lawrenceville, GA)

Sand Tray Therapy Class: Zen Garden J.V.

Sand Tray Therapy Class: Zen Garden J.V.

In casting around for something to make my zen garden out of, I remembered that I had some old film canisters from my undergraduate years when I was a film and television major. I had held onto it thinking it was a neat object and that surely I would someday come up with a use for it. How gratifying that I finally did find a new purpose for the old film canister. Practically, the shape was a good one, and I liked the idea of using something that was meaningful to me and represented an important part of my past. I consider my rake a triumph of creative problem solving, as I made it from a guide from an old beard trimmer and some toothpicks. I tried to show some restraint in designing my sand tray therapy zen garden, as I didn’t want to clutter it with random items. It would offend my sense of order. I started with a shell I had gotten when I took Play Therapy a couple of years ago. I liked the idea of including a seashell and the connection to the previous class appealed to me. The two rocks are more about aesthetics than meaning as I just wanted some structures in the sand to make patterns around. I also felt that I wanted a little bit of life in my garden, so I found a little piece of greenery outside my home and added it to the garden.

I played with my sand tray therapy zen garden a bit after making it, but the day I spent the longest stretch of time with it was after the first day of working summer camp. I was physically and mentally tired when I came to my garden, and I spent a good bit of time moving my rake through the sand making patterns around the structures I had placed in the garden, trying different paths and patterns. I can’t say that it has made me any less exhausted, but it has been calming, almost hypnotic, letting me slow down my brain a bit after a long day of camp and then class afterward, letting me get into a mood where I am in rest mode and ready to recharge for the next day.

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"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.

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