(Sand Tray Therapy Student)
Sand Tray Therapy / School Counseling Zen Garden
I have never created my own Sand Tray Therapy Zen garden although I have played with a few since I work with a group of therapists. I always found them intriguing as they have an attractive quality that seems to draw people towards raking the sand and moving around whatever is in them.
They also seem to have a tranquilizing/calming or soothing effect, or at least that is the effect they have had on me. This would be useful in the school counseling setting for students. Upon being presented with this assignment, I began looking forward to creating one of my own.
I knew that my personal Zen garden would incorporate a beach theme because the beach and the ocean have the capacity to relax me and clear my mind. I grew up in a small town on the western coast of Italy so I spent a great deal of my childhood on the playing on the beach and swimming in the sea. I have fond memories of my childhood and still go back to Italy as often as I can. Thinking of the beach evokes pleasant feelings in me and therefore I wanted to make sure that my zen garden would be able to remind me of these experiences.
As I was looking for the sand tray for the sand tray therapy zen garden, I had trouble finding a simple one and when I ran across the book shaped box with the butterflies, I thought it would be perfect! I love to read and enjoy the outdoors and this box made me think of both. I chose to keep the inside of the box fairly simple.
I added some sea shells, some glass stones to represent water, a starfish, a branch, and a glass ladybug. The ladybug is significant for me because it reminds me of my aunt who has played a large role in my life and who continues to be someone I look up to.
I wasn’t able to find a rake so I made one using a plastic fork and a whole lot of glitter glue. I love glitter and use it during many of the art interventions I do with children because the majority of them enjoy it.
My overall experience with the Zen garden was a positive one. I felt relaxed throughout the experience and enjoyed creating one that expressed a bit of my personality. I believe that this would be a great intervention to use with clients and students in school counseling.
In fact, I told my internship supervisor about this activity and she is planning on incorporating the creation of a Zen garden in one of her therapy sessions. Now we both look forward to learning more about sand tray therapy in the play therapy arena and the school counseling arena!
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*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"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.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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