Sand Tray Therapy Video Reflection

by G.
(Graduate Counseling Student)

Sand Tray Therapy Video Reflection
Each of these sand tray therapy video segments provided a lot of insight into working with clients in the sand. I really enjoyed the Barbara Turner segment. A few things that stuck out with me from that video segment were the parallels that Dr. Turner made in her example trays. Before seeing this video, I wondered how sand play therapists would know how to interpret a tray. I was positive there was some special fancy technique that these therapists had for interpreting the tray. From Dr. Turner’s video, I saw that there is a big emphasis on the figurines and structures chosen to go into the tray. They symbolize different things so having an understanding of the underlying meanings of these symbols would provide a great benefit to understanding and entering the client’s word.
Another neat portion from Dr. Turner’s sand tray therapy video was the manner in which she conducted a cross analysis using the symbols. In one of her examples trays, she talked about how a young boy was having conflict in his home. He set up his tray in a very profound style where there were different scenarios of conflict displayed in each corner of the tray. It was very empowering the way Dr. Turner described how these different symbols had very opposing meanings. For example, in one corner there were a group of men preparing to fight and in going across diagonally in the other corner there was a man attempting to tame a lion, or establish order. It was awesome to see how she interpreted the themes from his tray to be themes of conflict and resolution.
I also noticed how she drew attention to what she called the crux. In this case, it was figure encased in steel. This figure, according to Dr. Turner, was viewed as the piece that would need the healing in order to deal with the client’s inner issues. From seeing Dr. Turner’s explanation, this helped me to get a better grasp on how I could use both the placement and symbolic meaning of the figures for interpretation.
I didn’t enjoy Jill Weadick’s sand tray therapy videos as much as Dr. Turner’s, but there was a nice take away message from her videos that emphasizes the importance of following the client where they lead you. One part of her video segment that was eye catching for me was the meaning of burying in the sand. She discussed how she sees this behavior a lot in sand play with children ages 3-6 but I was looking for her to give some implications on what that might mean when children bury figures in the sand. It was also empowering to see how usage of a minimal amount of figures can still have an impact in sand play from her example of the sand tray with the adult married woman. There was so much revealed in her tray just from using two figures. In my opinion, this really demonstrates that the figures are not as important as the power that the psyche has to go into the subconscious and reveal.
The sandtray therapists Steve videos were also a great teaching tool. Primarily, I learned that sand play therapy is most useful for clients that are stuck in therapy. When I first heard him say this, it made me wonder how effective I could be if I just chose to use sand play therapy as the complete treatment modality for my client. Would it then not be as effective? I was definitely in agreement with Steve’s thoughts about the benefits of sand play. Many clients, especially children, I feel will not want to share their feelings. Talk therapy with kids is like pulling teeth. Sand play gives them the opportunity to express themselves through a medium that is less threatening, indirect, and in my opinion, more meaningful.
I also liked Steve’s viewpoint on the tray being the co-therapist. This was such a powerful statement! I really liked his statement about the tray being representative of the issue. Like Dr. S has told me in class before, the therapist is really an observer. My goal as a sand play therapist is to go with the client where they need to go in their inner world. As long as they invite me in and they trust me to go deep (as Steve said in his video), I know the tray would be a great tool to help them express themselves.

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