Playing in the sand comes naturally to us, unless we hate the texture and grit. Most of us, as kids, loved to pile it up, make castles, roads, shapes. Then we’d dash to the waves, bucket in tow, to fill the moat or the lake we’d created. Parents often love the excuse to join in with children, adding sticks and shells.
Sandplay sounds like kids’ stuff, and I guess it can be. Think of it as having a dream while you are awake. Adults have dreams, and nightmares: these are nature’s way of helping us sift and sort to resolve things while we are asleep. So adults may find they want to try it to see what happens. But it’s not for everyone, and so you can give it a miss. I use it all the time with children, and they really get into it, all the while sorting problems out at a concrete level, appropriate for their stage of development. Some adolescents prefer it, particularly if they are shy or anxious.
Sandplay became a more formal therapy in the 1950’s: that’s when miniatures of people, animals, shells, trees and anything you can think of was placed on shelves near the sand. I do a sandtray when I’m trying to work out something and my brain won’t stop. It’s a bit zen or meditative. Relaxing. I go away, have a cuppa, and come back to find the tray shows the solution to the problem. And it was fun! Less effort, more result. Click here for more.
I have training and experience in Sandplay. I have been using it for more than 10 years; more recently I have incorporated it into Supervision.