Sand Tray Therapy: Translation Assignment - J.

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Lawrenceville, GA)

Sand Tray Therapy: Translation Assignment - J.

Sand Tray Therapy: Translation Assignment - J.

My sand tray therapy client began interacting with the sand tray by spending some time smoothing out the sand. She gave some thought to her first miniature and placed the small brown puppy in the tray. She later identified this puppy as her daughter. The second miniature the client added was the Tiger, facing in the opposite direction of the puppy. The client ended up removing this miniature and replacing it with the larger gray dog later in the building process. The client identified both the dog and the tiger as her older son. The third miniature added by the client was the panda which the client identified as representing herself. She then proceeded to complete this particular hot spot by adding the koala miniature which the client identified as representing her younger son. It is interesting to not the eyelines and position of the miniatures in this area. The eyelines of the two sons seem to be looking toward each other, while the panda is only making direct eye-contact with the koala. The small puppy is the farthest away from the panda, but is focused directly on her. It is also interesting to note that the original placement of the tiger had him facing away from the panda, but when the client replaced the tiger with the dog she had him face the panda. The client saw these two miniatures as representative of the two sides she sees of her son’s personality. The tiger representing a moodier and mischievious version and the dog representing the happier one. The dog is the image the client prefered to think of for her son. The sand tray therapy client then went on to add one of the whales in the back corner of the tray which the client indicated might be representing herself. She added the parrot between the whale and the circle in the middle, looking toward the circle, which the client also identified as herself at the times when she feels more like an observer than participant. The client finally added the other whale to the tray, facing the first whale, which the client indicated might represent her husband. The dog is a somewhat ambiguous symbol, however puppies do have an association with playfulness and a carefree nature and also reliability and trustworthiness, all certainly positive attributes to associate with a child. The tiger can represent an elemental impulsiveness, a condition that is true of all children at some point. The panda can symbolize a difficulty in coming to a compromise. This is interesting as the client had indicated some nervousness in regards to her sons going off to camp while also looking forward to spending some bonding time with her daughter, who perhaps had been overshadowed recently by the sons. The koala can symbolize security, nurturance, and protection. This is interesting given the placement as the panda and koala are closest to each other and are making eye contact. There seems to be a special bond between these two figures that seems to reflect those feelings. The parrot is a difficult symbol to translate. The client indicated that it represented herself as the observer. It can be a symbol of gossip, or of an eccentric person, or someone being repetitive and open to mockery. None of this seems to make sense based on my time with the client. If the parrot represents any more than the client’s translation, it would probably take more time, and perhaps more sand trays, to get to the bottom of it. The client seemed a bit ambivalent about the whales and their placement in the back, suggesting that it might indicate that she has pushed her relationship with her husband to the back of her mind. The whale can symbolize a container that can contain either treasure or misfortune. However, and maybe this is just my more Pollyannaish side showing through, the sand tray therapy interpretation of the whale that I would like to call attention to is that of the bearer of the the cosmos, part of the foundations of the earth, or, if they do represent the client and her husband, the foundations of the family.

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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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