Video Reflection Paper #2 for Sand Tray Therapy Class

by Sandtray Class #2 Spring 2014
(Mercer University )

I have worked with children for over five years and I have utilized the sand play / sand tray therapy method with clients. I have not had any official training, but I have received direction from past supervisors during supervision. I have always known that the sand play method was powerful, but sometimes I have struggled with explaining how the process works and why it is so powerful. I have enjoyed learning the theory and the process of the sand play/ sand tray therapy method. While viewing the sand play videos I have learned the role of the therapist during the process, I have learned the importance of building safety, and I have learned the importance of understanding metaphors in the sand.

After viewing the videos for sand tray therapy it is my understanding that the therapist should have the role of the witness. As the witness the therapist affirms the client and his or her process without judgment, and does not interfere with the client’s process. This can be difficult at times because of the temptation to interject with questions or opinions. I also learned that interpretation can and possibly should be completed at the end of the process; perhaps in another session if needed. Now when I use the sand play method as the witness to the process I suspect that I will feel less anxious, I will not feel as if I have to do something or fully understand what the client is expressing with his or her sand tray creation. One of the videos mentioned the fact that clients may sense the therapist’s anxiety and preferences for how the sand tray should be completed. I will work hard to insure that I am not projecting my own anxious feelings or insecurities unto my client’s work. I really like the idea of the therapist as the witness to the process, in the past I have often felt this way, but never truly identified my role within the sand play experience.

Regardless of the therapy modality I have used in the past, I have always known that it was my job as the therapist to create an environment of trust and safety. This is important in every therapeutic relationship. Trust is the basis for all positive therapeutic relationships. This can be accomplished my allowing the client to simply “be” whomever he or she needs or wants to be at that given time. One way that I can build trust and safety when using the sand play modality is by insuring the client that he or she is capable, and that there is no right or wrong manner for the client to create their sand tray. The Dora Klaff video mentioned the importance of creating boundaries which in turn creates safety. I think this is a true statement, I think that clients are able to transfer their chaotic worlds into a small manageable world within the sand tray, which will decrease anxiety and promote empowerment.

Another way that safety is formed is by the use of metaphors, I think that clients are able to create distance and individualized meaning when they use the miniatures as metaphoric symbols. I agree with the therapist in the video that it is important to learn the meaning behind symbols but I think that I have to be careful because client’s will not necessarily prescribe the same meaning to a symbol as the therapist might. When working with children, they may not know what the true meaning is for a given miniature and therefore careful attention as to be given to clients to allow them to provide meaning.

Watching the videos made me feel motivated to continue to learn about sand play. I feel excited at the thought of providing an even better experience for my clients. The videos helped me to understand the different levels of emotion that may be exhibited by the clients during their sand play experience. I am going to invest in more education about sand play such as workshops, journal articles, books, and online videos. In the past I have only used the sand tray as an adjunct to play therapy or traditional talk therapy, after watching the videos I feel motivated to use sand play as a solo modality with my clients.

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