Sandtray Therapy Basic Training

3 Chapters 3 Lessons Easy

About this course

In this course we will explore the overall framework of Sandtray Therapy as a stand alone method of therapy. The learner will be able to understand what Sandtray Therapy is NOT, and what Sandtray Therapy IS.

It is important to understand that with this method a rigorous training needs to be completed in order to proficiently set up a Sandtray Therapy practice. A training background in mental health, psychology or social sciences would be a requirement for any therapist using this method in a clinical setting.

At Opengate Institute we advocate for Sandtray therapy as a stand alone method, these modules are not meant to be understood under any other framework other than as a Sandtray Therapist.

Course Structure


What is Sandtray Therapy? 1 Lesson

Sandtray Therapy Basics 101

Sandtray Therapy is a psychotherapeutic method used in the context of mental health. It is an expressive method that uses an indoor sand tray, sand, water and hundreds of sandtray miniatures. These miniatures are like the words that make up a story. When placed into the sand tray seemingly randomly they make up the sand players 'sand world'.

A sand world is the story that the sand player is unable to communicate or express using words. 

Originally Sandtray Therapy was called 'The World Technique', adopted by the children who used the indoor sand tray method to express intergenerational trauma. Dr Margaret Lowenfeld was the woman behind the development of this method, she used it with Polish children in the 1920's for them to have a platform to express their intrinsic emotions. It was the children who guided her to evolve the method.

The requirements of a Sandtray Therapist are;

a) Knowledge and Understanding of Developmental theories

b) Understanding of Psychological concepts of Personality and Development

c) Training in counselling techniques such as empathy, listening skills, verbal communication skills, non-verbal ques, unconditional positive regard.

d) Own personal process in psychological wellness including having done at least 3 of their own personal sand trays.

The basic concept of Sandtray Therapy lies within the sandtray miniatures, these form the basis of the theoretical framework. The image theory begins with the lower shelves these include: vegetation, animals that live within the ground such as snakes & reptiles, found objects such as stones, rocks, sticks.

The next shelf will comprise of soldiers, transport, planes, cars. Animals wild and domestic then we will have mythology including fairies, dragons, elves, princess, prince and other archetypal images, other shelves will include humans in all forms of their roles such as nurse, mother, father, fire fighter images of feminine and masculine. The top shelf will hold the more spiritual images that represent religiosity, faith, ancient ancestors.

The above is an overview and each Sandtray Therapist will have their own distinct sandtray images that reflect their way of being. 


What Sandtray Therapy is NOT! 1 Lesson

Looking Deep into Sandtray Therapy

Sandtray Therapy is a stand alone therapeutic method, it should NOT be used by an untrained therapist. A trained specialist practitioner can use Sandtray Therapy as their only method in practice as a mental health tool.

Sandtray Therapy is NOT an offshoot of play therapy, Sandtray Therapy is a cross-theoretical method, evidence-based and researched to be used as a stand alone method.

Sandtray Therapy is NOT a quick fix, it is a psychosocial method, a psycho-educational method and a psychotherapeutic method. A sand player will NOT immediately take to 'playing', especially if your client is an adult with early childhood trauma with an inability to play.

Sandtray Therapy is NOT a non-verbal method alone, this method will act according to the sand players own sense of self. If a sand player is tended towards extroversion, the sand method will allow them to be verbally expressive. If a sand player is more introverted in personality, they will use the sand tray miniatures to express their non-verbal issues in the sand.

Sandtray Therapy CAN cause harm if a therapist has NOT been trained in the framework and principles of this therapy. The role of the therapist as 'significant other' is key to the psychological health and well-being of the sand player.

Sandtray Therapy is NOT based on Jungian Sandplay Therapy. Sandtray Therapy is a unique method that can be integrated into most mental health settings, and used for assessment purposes.

A Sandtray Therapy practitioner can NOT learn this method in a weekend workshop. Though there is some great options available, in order to truly understand this method you will need to experience it as a sand player and be supported by a supervisor.

Sandtray Therapy is NOT only for children, adolescents, adults, couples and families can express, explore and begin to tap into their creative selves to bring about a balance of body, mind and soul. S


Sand wet and dry 1 Lesson


There is often the question asked around which sand to use. A Jungian Sandplay therapist will say only use sand, with two trays one wet and one dry. If you work in schools or you are a travelling sandtray therapist you may only use the dry sand or kinetic sand. Work with what you have, the important factor if that you are the significant other in the room, you are important, how you present, your feel, you think and you holistic presence.

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