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Sandtray Therapy is the Coolest Therapy Ever

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Date : April 9, 2017


You may have experienced talk therapy and other modalities, but have never felt they really addressed your problems. Give Sandtray Therapy a try.

I have been a psychotherapist in private practice for almost thirty years. Fifteen years ago, I wrote a highly-acclaimed book titled Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy. Grieving my father’s death took place here. He died when I was fifteen years old. I began to look at how his death affected me when I was forty. Each chapter was a visit to the cemetery where I would interact with my father’s spirit and other significant others in my life.

The sandtray is a small sandbox where a child, teenager or adult can place figures. The figures may hold meaning while selecting them; other times you may have no idea what attracted you to the figure. The figures include people, animals, religious figures, fences, bridges, greenery, fall leaves, dinosaurs, headstones, caskets, historical figures, and others.

The placement of figures will eventually create a scene where the client can discuss whatever issues come up for her. It is not unusual for some type of trauma to emerge in the tray: death of a loved one, memories of physical, emotional, and or sexual abuse, ending of a close relationship, or divorce.

During regular talk therapy, you can imagine different parts of yourself. You may even be able to identify them as the child, teenager, protector and rebel inside. During a sandtray therapy session, you can choose figures from the therapists’ shelf and place them in the sandtray. The figures suddenly become alive. Painful memories come to the surface.

Those of us who have been traumatized have internal parts that become fragmented. You will learn that the trauma causes these internal parts to split off from each other as an ingenious survival strategy. This leads your internal world to resemble a group of family members who do not communicate effectively or at all with each other. They may not even be aware of each other’s presence. Often times it is the child part that takes over when triggered. All other parts are pushed aside. The child is trying to protect the others.

The child part is activated when triggered. The child may feel overwhelmed and become emotionally paralyzed. She may become impulsive and say hurtful words. She may take on all the abuse that was forced on her.

Working with clients connects me with common struggles that they are experiencing so I know how to ask questions that will further their journey. My common struggle with others is dealing with the isolation of the child within. An example of this would be a thirty-five year old woman who has had a history of being abused and neglected as a child. She is a dynamic person who is highly motivated to heal her emotional pain. She had placed several figures in the sandtray. One was a child that was fearful and would at times become immobilized and unable to speak. Another figure was a strong, caring adult female. I asked my client if she could have them talk to each other. She responded by saying no way. I asked if the child was afraid that the adult would take over and push her away. She thought about this with tears in her eyes and said yes.

I suggested that perhaps they could start communication by simply asking each other basic questions like, “How are you doing?” My client started this process and realized that the adult and child had never really connected inside her before. The child could learn to trust the adult and the adult could comfort the child. This dynamic was a huge step into integrating the fragmented parts and leading to discovering happiness.

Using figures rather than trying to visually imagine those who have been abusers is less threatening. The fact that you have the option of choosing your own figures gives you a sense of control and ownership of the process.

Using figures to experience your different internal parts gives them shape, substance and a voice. You will see how they are isolated from each other. You will come to understand why they have been isolated from each other and will find ways for them to connect and this will make you feel whole for maybe the first time. It won’t happen overnight, but if it works, you will be amazed at your progress.

No pills, no required reading for preparation, a very straight forward and exciting process. Sandtray is a healing tool that has largely been overlooked and I want to change that.

Click here for information about Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy.

If you would like to obtain more information about Sandtray Therapy, please email me at bobsandtraytherapy@gmail.com Thanks!

Written by

Bob utilizes his life experiences as well as professional ones to connect and assist with clients. Bob holds a Masters Degree in Social Welfare that he earned at the University of Kansas in 1979. His California License number is LCS 11087.He has been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Hartford Courant, Natural Health Magazine, The Library Journal, Grand Magazine, Lee’s Summit Journal and Womansday.com. He is an expert on the Oprah/Dr. Oz owned Sharecare.com and he is a frequent contributor to the highly regarded Mentalhelp.net.

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