We are often asked in therapy, “How do you feel about that?” This can be a confusing, sometimes frustrating question, for all of us. Sometimes there are no words to describe and express the chaos, the turmoil, the longings that we have – why is it hard to find happiness or a sense of contentment? How does one describe a sense of emptiness that ebbs and flows? We are told we must verbalize our pain and frustration in order to heal, which may be the ultimate goal – to be able to articulate our feelings and make sense of our experience – but what happens when language is insufficient?
Sandplay therapy is an expressive and projective technique that I have studied and also used in my own analysis over the years. It is a form of non-verbal expression and communication that involves using miniature figurines in a tray of sand — to create a symbolic “dream world” reflective of the unconscious mind but also as a forum for full self-exploration and self-expression. It gives expression to non-verbalized emotional issues. If play is the language, the mini figurines are the words.
Play is powerful and necessary. In a world of rules & requirements, play offers respite and freedom. It is safe to make mistakes without failure. It encourages use of the imagination and fantasy life and encourages the development of self. Play offers a respite from the consciousness of self, promotes positive self-awareness, and a break from evaluation.
I invite all my clients to experiment with sandtray therapy as an addition to talk therapy, but of course it is not a requirement!
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain – C.G. Jung