Sand Tray Therapy is one technique of Play Therapy that allows children to express themselves by using sand and figurines to create a scene that tells the story of who they are. This therapy allows a child the freedom to be creative and use non-verbal language to express how they are feeling.
Sand Tray Therapy can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced a traumatic event. Many children are unable to verbalize emotional states, particularly in the face of trauma, neglect, or abuse. The nonverbal nature of sand tray therapy and the familiar medium of sand can help children achieve feelings of comfort and security. With little instruction from the therapist, the child is free to play and develop their own expression of situations. Often, the children will experience a sense of independent play and begin making assumptions and behavior changes without cues from the therapist. This method of therapy can serve as a valuable and powerful outlet for children and an incredibly insightful method of gaining access to traumatic experiences.
Sand tray therapy is also very useful in the treatment of children who have been sexually abused. These children will often remain silent for fear of harm. They are often threatened and are in highly anxious states when they come to therapy. The relaxed and interactive setting of sand tray therapy provides them the initial arena of safety that they may need to move toward healing.
The goal of this therapy is for the scene that is created by the child to act as a reflection of their own life. This will then allow the child to remove any obstacles that may be holding them back, resolve conflicts, and gain acceptance of one’s self in a fun and therapeutic setting.