Article – Exploring Sand Trays

Exploring Sand Trays in Emotional Wellbeing Interventions

As we know words aren’t always enough. Beneath the surface of behaviours that challenge, tearful outbursts, and stony silences lie oceans of unexpressed emotions and tangled knots of experiences.

But how do we reach those depths when traditional conversation leaves us treading water? Enter sand tray therapy.

Imagine a sand tray, not for playtime, but for profound personal expression. In sand tray therapy, we offer our students a miniature world, filled with figurines, shells, feathers, and endless creative possibilities. It’s a blank canvas, an invitation to paint their inner landscapes with sand and symbols.

Why is this such a great intervention for our students?

  • Unlocking unspoken emotions: Words get stuck, but emotions find freedom in symbolism. A child who struggles to voice their anger might build a volcano erupting, while another hides a tiny monster behind a sandcastle wall – each scene a window into their emotional world.
  • Unearthing buried memories: Traumatic experiences often lodge deep within, inaccessible by words. But the sand tray provides a safe space to play out past events indirectly, letting hidden memories bubble to the surface through metaphors and stories whispered in sand.
  • Building self-awareness: As students construct their world, they gain a clearer picture of their inner landscape. Observing their choices, reflecting on the scene, they begin to understand their thoughts, feelings, and patterns.
  • Practicing problem-solving: The sand tray becomes a mini-stage for rehearsing real-life challenges. Students can play out difficult interactions, test conflict resolution strategies, and find empowering solutions in the safety of their miniature world.
  • Improving communication: The dialogue sparked by the sand tray scene bridges the gap between emotions and words. It fosters deeper connections with students, opens doors to meaningful conversations, and builds trust within the therapeutic relationship.

So, how can you learn more?  Join us for training and see how this intervention can work in your setting.

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