Sand Play Therapy is a form of active imagination in which you can directly and imaginatively engage with aspects of yourself not normally part of your conscious processes. In the office, there is a tray with sand and a collection of figures of many different kinds. You are free to play with the sand tray and the figures however you feel inspired. Many people create scenes with the figures in the sand. Each resulting tableau becomes something to feel and take in, and can be discussed by us or not, depending on what is needed in the moment. Continuing, successive, creative work with the sand and the figures helps you more and more gain access to feelings, thought patterns, and ideas previously not realized. Some people engage with sand play therapy on a regular basis in this way.
If you feel inspired by the idea of it or by seeing the sand or the figures in my office, sand play can also be integrated into therapy on an occasional basis. Many people do an occasional tray, just as they may occasionally discuss a dream. Doing so helps them shake up their preconceptions or brings in some additional inspiration.
Sand play therapy can also be integrated into couples therapy. A couple can work together to do a tray, or can witness each other. This becomes a rich experience of imagining together and of playing together, which can help deepen a relationship.
Many adults find it hard to start playing. Play is such a natural and necessary part of life, but the tendency is trained out of many of us by the time we reach adulthood. Sand play therapy is an opportunity to reclaim that underused part of ourselves in a therapeutic context.
This can be hard to envision just from words. Below is a gallery of images of one demonstration of what sand play can look like.