Sandtray therapy is one of my favorite techniques I use in the clinic. Not only does it give you and the child a chance to relax, have fun, and express creativity, but it also allows you, the therapist, to develop the therapeutic alliance and process through difficult emotions. I believe it’s one of the best tools in our therapeutic toolbox as clinicians. It's so rewarding to see a spark of excitement and interest in my clients when they set their eyes on my sandtray and miniature set up when they first walk into my office.
One of the greatest gifts we have is imagination. Over the years, I've used every creative means possible in therapy for children and adolescents — sandtray therapy being one of my favorites. It's a playful and expressive means in which clients can represent their emotions, both conscious and unconscious, via figurines placed on a tiny "stage" inside a sandbox that resembles a smaller version of our world.
What makes sandtray therapy unique is that there is no pressure to create something specific. A directive can be provided, but it is not necessary. The magic words I use are, "create your world inside the sandtray."
And like that, the child often gets to work. While others may need some reassurance that they are free to create and there is no need to fill any expectation at all other than participating and seeing what comes of the experience.
Sandtray therapy creates an environment where clients can feel safe and contained, explore their feelings, process their experiences, and develop new perspectives.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with great resources and supplies to help spark your curiosity for the awesome intervention!
Here is what you need to get started! Keep in mind it all depends on your budget. You could opt for buying a complete starter kit or slowly acquire figurines that have been gently used or ask family and friends for figures they may like to donate to you.
In addition, buying sand and a sandtray can also be less costly if you think outside the box!
Let's start with the cost-effective supplies.
When I first started, I bought a sandtray from the container store, which was actually a plastic boot storage bin that was a great size for me. I actually still use this since it's easy to store in my small office. This is an excellent option at only $14.99! If you would like the traditional blue color for your sandtray, for a couple of dollars more, you could also purchase a tray at playtherapysupply.com.