Humanistic sandtray therapy emphasizes a deep and accepting therapeutic relationship and an approach to sandtray processing that focuses on here-and-now experiencing. We believe that as people grow and develop in childhood and adolescence, they all lose touch with who they are. They may have been taught that certain feelings are acceptable while others are not. In this process of denying who they truly are, they become disconnected from their true selves. Humanistic sandtray therapy provides an experience of reconnecting to one’s true self, of rediscovering dreams, hopes and visions.
Like play therapy with young children, sandtray therapy provides an experience that is active, nonverbal, indirect, and symbolic. However, with clients who are 15 and older and do not have the developmental limitations of preoperational and concrete operational children, humanistic sandtray therapy capitalizes on the verbal and abstract thinking abilities of this age and extends the impact of the scene creation phase of sandtray to the processing phase of sandtray. The scene creation phase, in which clients arrange their miniatures in the tray, is very important and is central to the sandtray therapy experience. In humanistic sandtray therapy, the processing phase provides an additional experience that builds upon the scene creation phase and revolves around it. Throughout the processing phase of sandtray, clients look at their scene and experience the impact of it.
In sandtray therapy literature, much has been written about the importance of the tray itself, the miniatures and the safe and protected space of the sandtray. Jungians, who prefer to use the word sandplay, emphasize these aspects of sandtray. We believe that all of these are important but we focus more on the processing phase of sandtray on this web site because little has been written on this issue and sandtray therapy is far more therapeutic when therapists are skilled in facilitating a process of awareness during this phase of therapy.
If you are interested in learning more about sandtray, we have created a 6-part sandtray therapy training video series found below.