Sandtray Therapy Class-nature sand tray, Student #1

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Atlanta, Ga.)

Sandtray Therapy Class-nature sand tray, Student #1

Sandtray Therapy Class-nature sand tray, Student #1

Starting my day, I swam/walked with my children across the river and sandbars toward Little Tybee Island. Not only was it beautiful, but this was the first time we arrived a little while before low tide, allowing us to make it almost all the way across the river in fairly shallow water. As we walked slowly back toward Tybee, we all gathered shells in the small tide pools and just under the water’s surface.

My oldest son decided to swim all the way across the river and make it to the shore of Little Tybee, and though this made me nervous, it was awesome to watch him achieve this. On his way back, he held a complete sand dollar about his head to show me.

So, while my children played in the small tide pools, I put together a nature sand tray for sand tray therapy using my favorite shells of those we had collected during our morning. It was a beautiful warm day and I enjoyed walking along the sand, noticing the ripples from the wind and the indentions from the water as I carefully chose a beautiful elevated spot to do this work.

It was lovely to search through the beautiful shells and create a piece of what felt like art. I first chose one complete shell to put in the middle with the others coming out from it. It was incredible to notice the colors of the shells in the colors of the sand. I made a second piece with some of my less favorite shells but ones still beautiful and made it to look like a some type of amphibian. Later, when my son arrived with his sand dollar, I placed it in center.

Not only did the sand tray for sand tray therapy represent my peacefulness at the beach, but a collection complete with all three of my children represented together in the sand along with me. It was especially joyful to be present and engaged with them during the morning and share my work with them as well, since they eagerly came afterword to see what I had made and then to make their own.

This way of creating art in the natural world, helped me feel more connected to my experience and present in the moment enjoying the natural elements surrounding me and that of the sand tray in sand tray therapy.

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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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