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Sandtray Techniques

Sandtray therapy is considered an expressive and dynamic form of psychotherapy that facilitates expression of thoughts through metaphor and symbols, according to the Sandtray Therapy Institute.

The technique aims at healing individuals by allowing them to get in touch with their inner processes and past experiences. The Institute touts its ability to let people become who they are meant to be, rather than being limited by what they were taught when they were younger.

Sandtray Techniques


Verbal and Abstract Thinking

The verbal and abstract thinking technique focuses on participants who are 15 and older. This is because people older than 15 don’t have developmental limitations. Sandtray therapy is an experience that aims to be indirect, symbolic and active.



Some patients choose to remain silent when playing with sand and miniatures. The non-verbal approach is a technique chosen by those who are able to get in touch with their feelings more effectively by internalizing.


Scene Creation

Some clients choose to use sandtray miniatures to create a scene in which they place tiny objects, which could be a scene of anything. Through this technique, the participant experiences the impact of the scene he has created.


Personal Therapy

Sandtray therapists can be utilized by the patient to help her heal. The therapist works in an office equipped with various miniature objects, water and sand.

Utilizing a trained sandtray therapist is an important technique to use, because the therapist facilitates the building of awareness in the client. The participant creates patterns in the sand or places objects into the sandtray. The therapist encourages the client to play with the sand in whatever way she wants. The therapist doesn’t analyze or interpret the client’s sand world.


Manipulating the Sand

Some clients dig holes in the sand, some build hills, others create mountains, rivers and valleys. Many use the objects to create different worlds. Plays can be created to tell a story. Water can be added to the sand as well. People can either talk when they do this, or they can remain silent.


Using the ‘Waking Dream’

Some participants try to create “waking dreams.” Dilemmas, fears, meaningful images, dreams and hopes can be accessed by using the sandtray. Both the conscious and the unconscious psyche interact in this technique.

The outcome: a sense of rightness and truth. The client recognizes the situation as how things in his relationship to the real world.


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