Sandplay Therapy

2013-03-22 11.11.08Introduction to Sandplay Therapy

Dora M. Kalff

Dora Kalff, Jungian therapist, developed sandplay therapy in Switzerland in the 1950s and ’60s based on her studies at the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich, in Tibetan Buddhism, and with Margaret Lowenfeld, in England.

~ Just as an empty canvas provides a place for artistic expression, so the tray provides a place for the client’s emotional expression.~


The client is given the possibility, by means of figures and the arrangement of the sand within the contained space of the sandbox, to set up a world corresponding to his or her inner state. In this manner unconscious processes are made visible in a three-dimensional form. In sandplay it immediately becomes clear that one can come closer to wholeness. Immersed in play, the person succeeds in making an inner picture visible. Thus a link is established between internal and external. Through a series of images that take shape in this way, the process of individuation described by C. G. Jung is stimulated and brought to fruition.

Why is sand so powerful?

Sandplay brings the unconscious and conscious minds together. These two minds are often in conflict, and sand is one of the few modalities that can bring resolution to these conflicts.

Who can benefit from sandtray work?

Sandplay is a valuable medium in working with children, families, couples and individuals. Emotional issues that are not verbalized are expressed in the sand. Through the creation of sandtrays, one can delve deeper into what is troubling them and facilitate change in the process. The sand provides a playful, non-threatening environment to bring about connections and self-examination. Many adolescents are less open to talk therapies and are eager to participate in the empowering creation of a sand tray. It is important for adults and adolescents to recognize that their sandtray work will not be interpreted.  The therapist is only a guide to facilitate the process. Most people, especially children, delight in sandplay, as they are given the freedom to create and tell stories in a safe environment.