Bridges in the Sand: Using Sandtray Therapy to Connect the Abstract to the Concrete Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Halifax, NS May 14, 2013 Charles E. Myers, PhD, LPC, LMHC, NCC, NCSC, ACS, RPT-S Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL What is Sandtray? Sandtray therapy is an expressive and projective mode of psychotherapy involving the unfolding and processing of intra-and inter-personal issues through the use of specific sandtray materials as a nonverbal medium of communication, led by the client(s) and facilitated by a trained therapist. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. History of Sandtray • 1920’s – Margaret Lowenfeld first developed the use of the sandtray and miniatures after reading H.G. Well’s (1911) book “Floor Games.” • 1950’s –Dora Kalff, a Swiss Jungian Analyst, expanded and popularized the use of sandtray in her work with children. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Who can use Sandtray? • • • • • Children Adults Couples Families Trauma Victims Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. What can Sandtray be used for? • • • • • Behavioral Emotional Social Adjustment Abuse (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Advantages of Sandtray • Gives expression to nonverbalized emotional issues • Has a unique kinesthetic quality • Serves to create a therapeutic distance for clients • Creates a safe place for abreaction to occur • Naturally provides boundaries and limits, which promote safety for the client • Creates a place for the child client or family to experience control Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Advantages of Sandtray • Provides a unique setting for the emergence of therapeutic metaphors • Is effective in overcoming client resistance • Provides a needed and effective communication medium for the client with poor verbal skills • Cuts through verbalization used as a defense • Effectively addresses the challenge of transference (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Role of Sandtray Therapist • • • • Be Witness to the Client’s World Provide Free & Protected Space Honor Process & Product Observe the process (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. The Sandtray • Standard Size – 30” X 20” X 3” – Client should be able to see the entire world at one glance – Limited safe space • At Waist Height • Blue Inside – Can simulate the sky and water • Water Tray (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Miniatures • People – Ordinary, fantasy, mythological, & magical; diverse races & cultures, occupations & recreation; fighting, warring, & enslaved; death figures; religious & spiritual people & objects • Animals – Domestic and wild animals of the land, sea, & air; living, extinct, mythological, & fantasy; animal habitats; bones, shells, & feathers • Plant Life – Natural & artificial; complete life cycle Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney, 2012) Miniatures • Minerals – Rocks; natural & artificial gems; marbles & beads • Environments – Habitats of various cultures & areas; fences & bridges • Transportation – Land, water, & air; emergency & military vehicles • Miscellaneous – Planetary & earth symbols; objects that reflect & illuminate; addiction & medical symbols, aromatic objects; communication objects, containers; food; construction materials (Homeyer & Sweeney, 2012) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Obtaining Miniatures • • • • • • • • Dollar stores Toy stores Cake decorating Yard sales Seasonal sales Toy catalogues Play Therapy Conferences Grown up children’s old toys Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Displaying Miniatures • Open Shelves • Storage Containers • Drawers • Cabinets Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Processing the Sandtray Stage 1 Begin with a Global View –Invite client to tell you about the scene Use Reflective Skills –Help client feel understood and valued Enlarge the Meaning –Tentatively reflecting content or metaphors can facilitate insight Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Processing the Sandtray Stage 2 Move to Scenes and Parts –Gather and clarify sections of the tray, foster enlarging of the meaning, increase client insight • Tell me more about what is going on here • Invite client to discuss specific figures. • Tell me about . . . Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Processing the Sandtray Stage 3 Explore Specific Details –Does a figure in the scene represent you? Ask Relationship Questions –Who has the power here? –If _____ could talk to ______, what would they say? Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Processing the Sandtray Stage 4 Close Processing, Empower Client –Establish hope or plans with client • Is there anything you would like to change? • What is going to happen next? • How will your world look different in six months? –Title sandtray • Some people like to name their worlds, would you like to name yours? Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Evaluating Organization • Look at the way the miniatures are organized • Look for “classic” arrangements and mentally note what the arrangement might mean Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Common Themes Common themes, physical representation of the client’s inner experience, can be identified through the client’s sandworld •Empty World •Unpeopled World •Closed/Fenced World •Rigid World •Disorganized/Chaotic World •Aggressive World Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Empty World 1/3 or more of tray is empty – World is an unhappy, empty place – Dearth of ideas, rejection, escape – Mental resources are deficient - depressed Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Unpeopled World No men, women, or children – Wish for escape – Hostile feelings toward people – Especially true with the exclusive use of soldiers Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Closed/Fenced World Use of fences or other dividers – Self-protective – Closing self off from others – Closing dangers out – Fear of own inner impulses, need for external control Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Rigid World Rows of items (particularly overexaggerated uniformity) – Perfectionist – Attempt to create order – Need for self-control – Emotional rigidity, repression (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Resources • Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) www.sandplayusa.org • Sandtray Training http://www.sandtraytraining.com • Sandtray Network www.sandtray.org • Visionquest http://www.vision-quest.us/vqisr/index.htm Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. References Armstrong, S. A. (2008). Sandtray therapy: A humanistic approach. Dallas, TX: Ludic Press Boik, B. L., & Goodwin, E. A. (2000). Sandplay therapy: A step-by-step manual for psychotherapists of diverse orientations. New York, NY: Norton. Bradway, K., & McCoard, B. (1997). Sandplay – Silent workshop of the psyche. New York, NY: BrunnerRoutledge. Carey, L. J. (1999). Sandplay therapy with children and families. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Homeyer, L. E., & Sweeney, D. S. (1998). Sandtray: A practical manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA. Thank You Charles Myers [email protected] Northern Illinois University Dept. of Counseling, Adult &Higher Education Gabel Hall 200 DeKalb, IL 6015 (815)753-7501 Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.