Sand Tray Therapy: Translating my Client's Sand Tray

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Sandy Springs)

Sand Tray Therapy: Translating my Client's Sand Tray

Sand Tray Therapy: Translating my Client's Sand Tray

In our sandtray therapy class, we were asked to do a mock session with a fellow student posing as a "client" and translate the tray that they have created.

In the picture below, you see the following:
Dora the Explorer
A car
a dragon
a shark
An alligator
A Vault
A praying mantis
three bugs

For this sand tray therapy client, there is much symbolism in her tray
Dora the Explorer represents the client, and how she feels surrounded by so much stress in her life.

Superman represents the sand tray therapy clients husband, whom she feels is a protector for her and keeps her safe and happy. For the client, this represents safety and security.

A car for the client represents escape from problems in her life. She feels as though she can get overwhelmed with problems, and finds it easier to run instead of confronting them.
In this case, it is a toy car. It is said that toy cars represent wanting to get more control of your life. It might be very well possible that the client feels as though she does not have much control over her life.

A dragon potentially symbolizes unable to have control of your emotions, or there is a fear of something. In this case, the client feels like her faith has been question due to many personal moments that have occurred in her life related to family. She feels as though she does not have control over them, and it almost leaves her feeling helpless.

A shark in the clients tray represents for her the stress of school and family life. This could potentially mean that the client is going through an emotional period in their life that is draining.

An alligator in the clients tray represents her fighting spirit to overcome the stressors she faces. She stands strong, and resilient in not letting things bring her down totally.

A Vault in her tray represents wanting to lock away all of the problems that bother her and make her feel unhappy and stressed. This could represent her subconscious, and wanting to lock away unpleasant things inside it.

A praying mantis symbolizes her ability to be mindful and patient during stressful times. Her faith in her ability to overcome stressors is strong, and she is strong in being able to do so.

Three bugs, in this case cockroaches, they seem to represent destruction. The client feels that various stressors in life such as health problems, are destructive.

There are several hotspots in the clients tray. The shark is a hotspot, as it represents struggles with personal problems, such as her own health, and her sons health, both cases which were dealing with issues.

The praying mantis is a hotspot in that it represents her faith in a higher power to help her overcome all of the stress in her life.

The vault is a hotspot because it represents her wanting to lock away all of these stressors away from the conscious in order not to feel the pain of them.

After examining this clients tray, I take this from it. The sand tray therapy client sees herself in a world full of stressors. Her husband supports her and helps her overcome these stressors, but it is not always so easy. Health problems along with other problems have been tough to overcome. She wants to escape from it all, but it is not so easy to do so. Instead, she chooses to lock away the discomfort of the mind, so she does not have to confront the pain.

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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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