Sandplay therapy is an expressive and sensory-based psychotherapy intervention suitable for people of all ages. Sandplay therapy helps the client focus on their inner struggles and conflicts through “play,” i.e. building a world using sand, symbols and figurines. Sandplay therapy is a powerful creative intervention for deeper self-awareness that initiates change. Therapists use sandplay as a standalone intervention or to complement other psychotherapy frameworks.
During the therapy session, therapists trained in sandplay may invite their client to build a small “world” in the tray using a sand box and a variety of figurines available. This “world” may reflect the client's life, issues of concern or their world. The available miniatures figures may include people, animals, plants, transportation, buildings or other symbols. The client is free to choose characters or figurines that reflect past or present people and experiences in their own lives. They can also shift and form the sand (dry or sometimes wet) according to their inner preference. For example, they may move aside the sand aside to build landscapes or pile it up to create a mountain or a pathway.
The therapist observes the client's choice and arrangement of the figurines without interruption to allow the client to connect with their inner world. The therapist processes with the client the symbolic or metaphoric meanings of their choices of figures and arrangement only after the client have completed building the sandplay. The therapist does not interpret but maintains curiosity. The client does not need to explain or make sense of their creation because sandplay is projective and intuitive.
Sandplay therapy is suitable for people of all ages who have:
• Trouble with motional regulation (e.g., managing extreme anger or sadness)
• Struggling with grief and loss
• Trauma and PTSD
• Low self-esteem
• Relationship issues
• Divorce-related issues
• Bullying-related issues
• Special needs
Sandplay therapy is effective in helping to connect with deeply rooted feelings and struggles or concerns underneath the issue they brought to the therapy session. Sandplay therapy facilitates emotional expression and reduces psychological distress as touching and feeling the soft sand give a pleasurable sensory experience which brings a sense of calmness. Trauma survivors reported that using sandplay help them connect with their pain and find healing. People who struggle to identify their emotions or express themselves verbally also found it helpful to “speak” through sandplay. Some therapists use sandplay as a therapeutic tool to complement other modalities, e.g., they may integrate sandplay with EMDR or psychodynamic therapy.
Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers sandplay therapy to people of all ages. We also use sandplay as part of our trauma-informed psychotherapy services. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or Whatsapp at +65 8889 1848.
Keywords: Singapore, mental health, therapy services, therapist, sandplay, sand, therapy