Sand Tray Therapy Directions

How To Use The Sand Tray in Sand Tray Therapy with Step by Step Directions:

Beginning Sand Tray / Sand Play for Sand Tray Therapy

Disclaimer*For licensed mental health workers or students under supervision with a trained sand tray professional.

Materials: Sand Tray w/ sand and a blue painted bottom

Miniatures of all types and genres

Note: If a client is showing interest in the sand, or the sand tray, then I ask if they would like to use the sand tray in sand tray therapy. I explain that it is similar to drawing a picture, but miniatures are used in place of pencils, pens, makers, or paint. 

Example of a Regulation Sand Tray Therapy Tray Below:

Directions For Using Sand Tray Therapy:

1. After describing what the sand tray is and how you use sand tray therrapy, allow your sand tray therapy client to pick assorted miniatures of choice to add to the sand tray.

Explain that you will be making note of the sand tray therapy miniatures they are adding and drawing a replica of the sand tray therapy world.

As the sand tray therapist, you will need to take on the role of the silent observer.

The sand tray therapy client will be putting a piece of their inner world (psyche) into the sand tray. There is no right or wrong way to do sand tray therapy.

2. Ask your sand tray therapy client to build their sand tray therapy world in the sand tray. Tell the sand tray therapy client to let you know when they have finished and ready to talk about the world they have created.

The sand tray therapist will need to sit in silence next to the client while they are working on the sand tray. If the sand tray therapy client wants to talk while building the sand tray this is okay. Take your cue from the sand tray therapy client as to how they want to build the sand tray.

The sand tray therapy client will need to let you know when they are completed. Take notes of the miniatures that are added to the world, especially the first three to five miniatures. Once the sand tray therapy client has told you they are ready to talk about their completed sand tray ask if you can join them their sand tray therapy world.”

You will need to see their world from the point of creation and they eyes of the creator. Ask the sand tray therapy client if there is anything they would like to add, take away, or change in the sand tray therapy  world. Make a note of these changes.

4. Once they have invited you to join their world you can ask some of the below questions to get the sand tray therapy session into the working mode.

However, it is nice to request that you both sit quietly for a few moments in order to soak in the sand tray therapy world that has been created.

5. Look for patterns and hot spots in the sand tray world. Make a note of these in your drawing of the world.

Sentence Prompts for Sand Tray Therapist to Use in Sand Tray Therapy:

Below are some suggestions for prompts from the sand tray therapist after the sand tray therapy world has been created and the sand tray therapist has been invited into the world by the sand tray therapy client (These are only suggestions. Go with your gut!):

Tell me about this sand tray therapy world that you have created? What was it like for you to create this world?

What was it like to pick up this _______(miniature)?

How did it feel for you to create this space for this _________?

How would it feel to change your ________?

What is it like to live here for this _________?

Discuss what the feelings are within for this _________l.

What makes it safe for this ________? What makes it unsafe for this ________?

What _________ would make this ________ feel unsafe in this environment (Add a new miniature to the world)?

If this ________ could talk, what would it say? Project your feelings and words into the miniature and make it talk.

What do you need to do to get rid of things that are unsafe in this sand tray world?

Is there something in this miniature collection that can make you feel safe in this sand tray world?

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More Sand Tray Therapist Prompts: 

How can you make sure the ______l stays in this world with your miniature, or how can you access this animal when you need help?

Do you need to add anything to make this being feel safe? Do you need to take anything away to make this being feel safe?

What if we moved the ________ around in the world?

What would happen if we placed the _______ here, there?

What if we moved the ________ around in the world?

What would happen if we placed the _______ here, there?

What do you want / need to say to the ________ in this world?

What is it like for you experiencing this world?

What words would describe your experience today?

What did you learn from this world?

What would you like to take with you from this inside world into the outside world?

What needs to change / stay the same?

What protection does this _________ need in order to feel safe?

How can you translate this perspective to real life?

What did you learn from this world?

What would you like to take with you from this inside world into the outside world?

Ask if you can take a photo of the world for future references.

Therapist: It is now time to translate your client’s miniatures using the SYMBOLS DICTIONARY. Discuss this translation with your client in the next session.

References: Gisela Del Domenico, Dora Kalff, Dr. Barbara Turner 

How To Do Sand Tray Therapy to Creative Sand Tray 

How To Do The Sand Tray to Creative Counseling 101 Home

Copyright © 2015 Creative Counseling 
All Rights Reserved

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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