Translation of My Client's Sandtry for Sand Tray Therapy --Mercer Student #2

by Sand Tray Therapy Graduate Student
(Atlanta, GA, USA)

Title of Sand Tray for Sand Tray Therapy: "Feeling Helpless but Remembering the Importance of Taking Care of Myself"

First 3 Items Placed in the Sandtray

1. Vault. My client placed this in the right back corner of the tray.
2. Palm tree. My client placed this in the right front corner of the tray.
3. Hurt person. My client placed this miniature near the center of the tray.

Description of Hot Spots
1. Next, my client used toothpicks and created a crossroads in the center of his sandtray. Off to the center, he created a grouping consisting of a girl, a Hulk character, and a rhinoceros. These represented the way he sees his world now. The girl is his sister, the Hulk is him trying to be everything to everybody, and the rhinoceros is his work and school. Off to one side but close to the centered grouping are a hurt child figure and two additional girls. He described the hurt child as his 91-year-old grandfather who is currently in the hospital suffering from a stroke. The other two girls are nurses. A miniature of a grandmother is between the nurses and him in the crossroads and represents his grandmother. The last miniature that my client placed in the sandtray was Mickey Mouse who was directly in the center of the crossroads. This represented himself. This area in the center of the tray was the biggest and most complex hot spot. His family members were more toward the back.

2. Next, my client placed a sea shell near his palm tree in the front corner of the tray. He told me that this area of the sandtray represented calmness. This is where he would need to go if he was experiencing a lot of stress.

3. The vault which my client placed in one back corner was by itself.

Description of Client Changes to His Sandtray

After my client had completed his world, I asked if he would like to change anything. He picked up the vault which had originally had the side with the door that would open towards him and he turned it so that the side with the door was not seen.

Client’s Description of His World

When I asked my client to describe his world to me, he began with the vault since this had been the object that he had turned when he changed his world. He told me that the vault symbolizes how he tends to hold back his emotions and usually puts others’ thoughts and feelings before his own. He told me that he is beginning to recognize this and wants to try not to hold his feelings in. According to Dream Dictionary, “a vault represents your inner storehouse of psychological potential. You are at a time where you need to start using your inner reserves of skill and energy and quit continuing to lock and store them away.”
Next, my client described his family. Right now, he is preoccupied with having a grandfather who is in the hospital because of a stroke as well as a sister in the hospital because of problems with her pregnancy. He admitted that people’s health cannot be changed.
Last, my client described his “comfort area” with the palm tree and shell. According to the Symbols Dictionary, the palm tree represents one’s soul. “The palm and branches of foliage are symbols of regeneration, victory, ascension, and immortality.”

Last 3 Miniatures Placed in the Tray

1. The very last miniature that my client placed in the tray was Mickey Mouse who represented himself. I interpreted him placing himself last to mean that he probably puts other peoples’ needs before his own. According to Dream Dictionary, a mouse is a symbol for “fear, meekness, and a lack of assertiveness. You possess feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up. Alternatively, it may symbolize minor irritations and annoyances.” These symbols are representative of the way my client views himself.

2. and 3. The 2 nurses were the next-to-last miniatures placed in the tray. My client considers them part of the world because they are present in the hospital with his loved ones. I did not ask him but perhaps he included the nurses because they lessen his anxiety that someone is helping to take care of his loved ones when he cannot be there with them. According to Dream Dictionary, a nurse denotes that “you need to be taken care of and a time of healing, either mentally, physically or spiritually.”

Additional Pertinent Information

Dr. Stangline thought that my client was probably feeling some helplessness as a result of the medical conditions of his grandfather and sister. She asked him what miniature would be a symbol for helplessness. He chose a barrel with monkeys in it. According to the Dream Dictionary, monkeys symbolize “a playful and mischievous side of your own personality or an immature attitude.”

Half-way through asking my client if he would add anything to the sand tray, he added a Joker beside his sister and described the miniature as his brother-in-law who does not do a very good job taking care of his sister and his niece. He also added a golf club near his “comfort area.” He said this was to remind himself to try to take time to enjoy life despite the stressful times. Dream Dictionary describes a club as a symbol for feelings of aggression or submission depending if the club is used by or against you. It is also symbolic of virility and combativeness.”

Sand Tray Therapy

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