What parents should know about sandtray therapy

Our Orlando child counselors Amy Smith and Jessica Carmean both use sandtray therapy in their work with children, adolescents, and adults.  While sandtray therapy may look to you like just playing in the sand, sandtray therapy is much more than that.  We wanted to share a little bit more about sandtray therapy, and also what parents will want to know to help their child get the most out of sandtray therapy!

The LSRG Orlando sandtray setup!

The LSRG Orlando sandtray setup!

Children often do not have the words or the understanding of their feelings to talk through what is going on for them.  They may not be able to explain why they feel or act a certain way.  In fact, many adults even struggle to answer these questions.  Sand tray therapy offers a non-verbal way for children, adolescents, and adults to process their feelings, their actions, and what is going on in their lives.

Through the use of symbols (small figurines, toys, shells, rocks, and other items), children, adolescents, and adults build a world in the sandtray.  Typically this world in the sand is built without any direction from the therapist: whatever the child feels is important can be included in the world, and the world could focus on any topic.  Building and working inside this world may help children to make sense of the world, to explore an issue without the fear of directly talking about it, and to feel more in control of a situation, which is now contained inside the sandtray.

Most of the time you will probably not see your child’s sandtray.  However, your child may decide that he or she would like to invite you to see a sandtray at the end of a session or to show you a picture of the sandtray.  If you are invited to see your child’s sandtray, there are some things we’d like you to know:

  • It is important to respect that the builder of the sandtray is the owner of the sandtray and also the authority on the sandtray.
  • Only the builder of the sandtray may reach into the sandtray.  Do not touch items inside the sandtray.
  • Be careful not to interpret what the sandtray means or what any particular item in the sandtray represents.  Even though it may seem obvious that an item in the tray is a dog, it may not represent a dog to the builder.
  • Ask open questions about the sandtray rather than commenting on the sandtray.  If the sandtray is about anxiety for the child, it can be confusing for the child to hear you say it is “very nice”, “scary”, or any other comment.
  • Good things to say include “What would you like to share with me about your sandtray?”, “What does this sandtray mean to you?”, and “What was it like to build this sandtray?”
  • If your child chooses not to tell you about the sandtray, we encourage you to accept this.

If you’re interested in having Orlando sandtray therapy, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378. Amy Smith and Jessica Carmean are experienced and ready to assist you, your child, or your teen with sandtray.  Orlando play therapy, Orlando talk therapy, and other types of therapy are also available to be combined with sandtray or used alone for Orlando child counseling, Orlando teen counseling, and Orlando adult counseling.  Not sure if sandtray would be right for you?  Give us a call and our counselor-in-training will be happy to assist you in finding the Orlando counselor that is right for you!