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Bridges in the Sand: Using Sandtray Therapy to Connect the Abstract to the Concrete Charles E. Myers, PhD, LPC, LMHC, NCC, NCSC, ACS, RPT-S Northern Illinois.

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Presentation on theme: "Bridges in the Sand: Using Sandtray Therapy to Connect the Abstract to the Concrete Charles E. Myers, PhD, LPC, LMHC, NCC, NCSC, ACS, RPT-S Northern Illinois."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridges in the Sand: Using Sandtray Therapy to Connect the Abstract to the Concrete Charles E. Myers, PhD, LPC, LMHC, NCC, NCSC, ACS, RPT-S Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Halifax, NS May 14, 2013

2 What is Sandtray? Sandtray therapy is an expressive and projective mode of psychotherapy involving the unfolding and processing of intra-and inter-personal issues through the use of specific sandtray materials as a nonverbal medium of communication, led by the client(s) and facilitated by a trained therapist. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

3 History of Sandtray 1920s – Margaret Lowenfeld first developed the use of the sandtray and miniatures after reading H.G. Wells (1911) book Floor Games. 1950s –Dora Kalff, a Swiss Jungian Analyst, expanded and popularized the use of sandtray in her work with children. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

4 Who can use Sandtray? Children Adults Couples Families Trauma Victims Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

5 What can Sandtray be used for? Behavioral Emotional Social Adjustment Abuse (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

6 Advantages of Sandtray Gives expression to nonverbalized emotional issues Has a unique kinesthetic quality Serves to create a therapeutic distance for clients Creates a safe place for abreaction to occur Naturally provides boundaries and limits, which promote safety for the client Creates a place for the child client or family to experience control (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

7 Advantages of Sandtray Provides a unique setting for the emergence of therapeutic metaphors Is effective in overcoming client resistance Provides a needed and effective communication medium for the client with poor verbal skills Cuts through verbalization used as a defense Effectively addresses the challenge of transference (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

8 Role of Sandtray Therapist Be Witness to the Clients World Provide Free & Protected Space Honor Process & Product Observe the process (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

9 The Sandtray Standard Size – 30 X 20 X 3 – Client should be able to see the entire world at one glance – Limited safe space At Waist Height Blue Inside – Can simulate the sky and water Water Tray (Homeyer & Sweeney, 1998) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

10 Miniatures People – Ordinary, fantasy, mythological, & magical; diverse races & cultures, occupations & recreation; fighting, warring, & enslaved; death figures; religious & spiritual people & objects Animals – Domestic and wild animals of the land, sea, & air; living, extinct, mythological, & fantasy; animal habitats; bones, shells, & feathers Plant Life – Natural & artificial; complete life cycle (Homeyer & Sweeney, 2012) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

11 Miniatures Minerals – Rocks; natural & artificial gems; marbles & beads Environments – Habitats of various cultures & areas; fences & bridges Transportation – Land, water, & air; emergency & military vehicles Miscellaneous – Planetary & earth symbols; objects that reflect & illuminate; addiction & medical symbols, aromatic objects; communication objects, containers; food; construction materials (Homeyer & Sweeney, 2012) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

12 Obtaining Miniatures Dollar stores Toy stores Cake decorating Yard sales Seasonal sales Toy catalogues Play Therapy Conferences Grown up childrens old toys Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

13 Displaying Miniatures Open Shelves Storage Containers Drawers Cabinets Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

14 Processing the Sandtray Stage 1 Begin with a Global View – Invite client to tell you about the scene Use Reflective Skills – Help client feel understood and valued Enlarge the Meaning – Tentatively reflecting content or metaphors can facilitate insight Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

15 Processing the Sandtray Stage 2 Move to Scenes and Parts – Gather and clarify sections of the tray, foster enlarging of the meaning, increase client insight Tell me more about what is going on here Invite client to discuss specific figures. Tell me about... Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

16 Processing the Sandtray Stage 3 Explore Specific Details – Does a figure in the scene represent you? Ask Relationship Questions – Who has the power here? – If _____ could talk to ______, what would they say? Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

17 Processing the Sandtray Stage 4 Close Processing, Empower Client – Establish hope or plans with client Is there anything you would like to change? What is going to happen next? How will your world look different in six months? – Title sandtray Some people like to name their worlds, would you like to name yours? Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

18 Evaluating Organization Look at the way the miniatures are organized Look for classic arrangements and mentally note what the arrangement might mean Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

19 Common Themes Common themes, physical representation of the clients inner experience, can be identified through the clients sandworld Empty World Unpeopled World Closed/Fenced World Rigid World Disorganized/Chaotic World Aggressive World (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

20 Empty World 1/3 or more of tray is empty – World is an unhappy, empty place – Dearth of ideas, rejection, escape – Mental resources are deficient - depressed (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

21 Unpeopled World No men, women, or children – Wish for escape – Hostile feelings toward people – Especially true with the exclusive use of soldiers (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

22 Closed/Fenced World Use of fences or other dividers – Self-protective – Closing self off from others – Closing dangers out – Fear of own inner impulses, need for external control (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

23 Rigid World Rows of items (particularly over- exaggerated uniformity) – Perfectionist – Attempt to create order – Need for self-control – Emotional rigidity, repression (Homeyer & Sweeney 1998). Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

24 Resources Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) Sandtray Training Sandtray Network Visionquest Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

25 References Armstrong, S. A. (2008). Sandtray therapy: A humanistic approach. Dallas, TX: Ludic Press Boik, B. L., & Goodwin, E. A. (2000). Sandplay therapy: A step-by-step manual for psychotherapists of diverse orientations. New York, NY: Norton. Bradway, K., & McCoard, B. (1997). Sandplay – Silent workshop of the psyche. New York, NY: Brunner- Routledge. Carey, L. J. (1999). Sandplay therapy with children and families. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Homeyer, L. E., & Sweeney, D. S. (1998). Sandtray: A practical manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.

26 Thank You Charles Myers Northern Illinois University Dept. of Counseling, Adult &Higher Education Gabel Hall 200 DeKalb, IL 6015 (815) Myers, C. E. (2013). CCPA.


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