sandtray

let your hands & mind do the talking

what is sandtray?

Maybe you have been feeling stuck for a long time, and you can’t find the words for what’s bothering you.

Maybe the words are too painful.

You’ve read the self-help books, you’ve tried the meditation, you’ve attempted to practice mindfulness, but there’s still something nagging at your happiness.

Now, you’re starting to think things like “what’s wrong with me that I can’t just let this go?”

Sandtray is a therapeutic activity for when you can’t quite put your finger on the solution, or when talking through the problem just isn’t enough.

how does sandtray work?

Sandtray allows you to look at a representation of your emotion or mental story that you create in the sand.

It helps you and your therapist to find key themes, recurring patterns, and unhelpful beliefs. 

Sandtray lets your deep brain do the talking instead of your logical, problem-solving brain (which hasn’t managed to solve the problem on its own yet, right?)

It gives you a gentle way to say “here’s where I’m hurting emotionally, here’s what I need.”

It even allows you to give yourself what you need in order to move past whatever it is, because you’re doing the work in an area of your brain often silenced by the demands of life.

but what do i do during a sandtray therapy session?

Sandtray uses a table filled with sand (already feels calming, right?) and shelves of miniatures and figurines.

In a sandtray session, you’ll be able to take whatever is on your mind and “put it into the sand” in a way that pushes aside the mental block of “I have to figure this out rationally.”

Some clients build worlds, others tell stories. 

Sometimes it’s grounding enough just to have your hands in the sand not building or creating anything. It can make processing hard experiences overwhelming.

There’s not one correct way to have a sandtray session, but during the session, your therapist will be checking in on your felt-sense (that’s a physical sensation connected to an emotion or experience) and guiding you to process through wherever you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

should i try sandtray?

Some people seek out sandtray because they feel like talk therapy in the past hasn’t helped as much as they hoped.

Others have never heard of it until they walk into the therapy room.

But an openness to accepting that sometimes the problem isn’t living in our neocortex often leads people to find results that traditional talk therapy didn’t give them.

If you feel like you’ve tried talking about the problem without seeing the results you want, sandtray might give you the breakthrough you’ve been needing.

find a therapist who offers sandtray sessions

Carolyn Robistow is the only clinician at The Joy Effect currently offering sandtray as a therapeutic activity. Read more about Carolyn here.