If you are interested in sandplay therapy training, you have probably looked at many different courses. Sand play is described as Jungian Sandplay in most places and integrative sandplay therapy in a few. What’s the difference?
Sandplay sprang up organically in the 1920s when counsellors in London noticed young child clients started putting toys into sandboxes. Do you remember old-fashioned sandboxes from school – the kind that has spades and water in them? These children were using the sand, box and figures to tell their stories.
Dora Kalff developed Jungian sandplay based on Margaret Lowenfeld’s World Technique. Kalff began to access what her teacher Carl Jung called the ‘Collective Unconscious’. This is a DNA bank of stories, myths and feelings we all have by nature of being human. The belief in Jungian sandplay is that playing in front of a kind witness is a healing act. The symbols ( figurines or miniatures), the sand trays, the sand and the sandplay therapist amplify the play. This then activates the soul’s natural desire to heal. So, Jungian sandplay takes place in a quiet space.
Like Jungian sandplay, our first task is to enable creative play
In integrative sandplay therapy. we also honour the process by allowing the client to choose their own pace and style of play. But we can – when appropriate – bring in other more active creative activities. In particular, we encourage students to work with the relationship in the room, as happens in object relations’ therapy. We also use techniques from sand tray, which comes from Gestalt Play Therapy
Melanie Klein – a contemporary of Lowenfeld and Kalff – was also interested in imaginative play therapy, though sandplay was not something that she developed. It seems to me that for a long time, sandplay wasn’t seen as proper therapy and was put aside (at least in the UK) for far too long. And that’s why most sandplay therapists have a Jungian sandplay therapy training: it was followers of Jung that made the most of the synergy between creativity, the kind witness and the Collective Unconscious.
Integrative Sandplay Therapy helps us engage with our clients in the room
If you watch sandplay clients at work, they often get symbols or figures to ‘talk’ to each other. They also use symbols as different ‘parts’ of themselves. For example, an angry part might talk as a dinosaur to a fairy. Can counsellors and psychotherapists encourage these dialogues with gentle questioning and engagement? This has obvious resonances with the way that trauma therapists work. It helps us to identify and integrate ‘parts’.
The strength of working in an integrative way is we can engage with the client using the transference and countertransference in the room, whilst remaining led by and attuned to my client. We can understand techniques from different schools of thought – the immediacy and presence of Gestalt, for example, is a revelation in sandplay. Integrating techniques from other schools e.g. person-centred makes sandplay work easy to adapt for individuals and couples.
That’s why we integrate teaching from a wide range of psychotherapeutic and spiritual traditions. Sandplay training needs to teach skills for all kinds of environments – schools, mental health units, counselling services and private practice. But, as the therapeutic repertoire grows more complex, especially the trauma world, remember that the creativity of our little sandboxes has much to contribute.
You can find details of our Introduction to Sandplay, Certificate in Integrative Sandplay and Diploma in Integrative Sandplay training courses at www.jillcartertraining.co.uk. The next introduction is in October 2019 in Ealing. Contact email@example.com for more details.