Humanistic therapists view the client as self-actualizing and “endowed with an inherent tendency to develop his or her potential” (Cain, 2002, p. 3). Clients are seen as having the ability to use inner resources for growth. Humanistic therapists believe that people are capable of being self-aware and responsible for the choices they make. Clients are viewed as social beings that have a powerful need to belong. In humanistic psychotherapy, the therapeutic relationship is the fundamental source of constructive change in the client (Cain, 2002). The primary goal in the therapeutic relationship is to create an optimal climate for growth. Rogers noted, “Most children, if given a reasonably normal environment which meets their own emotional, intellectual and social needs, have within themselves sufficient drive toward health to respond and make a comfortable adjustment to life” (Kirschenbaum, 1979, p. 75). By the time that therapists see children, adolescents or adults as clients, however, they need more than “a reasonably normal environment” because they do not have the trust of a young child. Thus, the importance of the optimal climate for growth is paramount. At STI, we teach and train therapists in how to provide this optimal climate. The therapeutic relationship is the heart of the climate but therapist self-awareness and skill enhances the climate and catalyzes client growth.

In sandtray therapy, the humanistic therapist creates a safe and accepting place for clients to face their core issues. Like play therapy, the metaphorical nature of sandtray provides a safe distance for clients to express painful and distressing feelings. Sandtray allows clients to express themselves symbolically and nonverbally and provides a visual projection of intra-psychic and interpersonal subjective client? reality.

Excerpt from Sandtray Therapy: A Humanistic Approach (p. 5)

If you are interested in learning more about sandtray, check out our 6-part sandtray therapy training videos.