You are wanting to know more about sandtray therapy but don’t know where to start. Or you have heard about this cool method of working with clients where words aren’t needed but need to check out if it’s legit. Or you are a big therapy nerd (like me) and will read anything that sounds interesting and may be able to help you be a more effective therapist.
If any of these sound like you, you need to get my favorite book about sandtray therapy. It’s what I give out to all of my attendees at any of my trainings because I think it’s THAT GOOD.
Honestly, I hope to one day add to the field at such a seminal level that my book becomes the suggestion for..”If you liked this book, then you’ll LOVE this one [INSERT THE TITLE OF MY BOOK HERE].
So, without further ado, here’s my to-go recommendation and book of choice for all things sandtray therapy.
Sandtray Therapy: A Practical Manual. 2nd Edition by Linda E. Homeyer and Daniel S. Sweeney
Why this book should be your go-to resource:
1. It starts with the basics
It covers the history of sandtray therapy, suggestions for miniatures (there’s even a checklist), set up of miniatures, types of sands, and even suggestions for budget-friendly alternatives to traditional trays.
2. Lots of case examples
I’m an avid reader but I also love lots of pictures, especially for sandtray. So much of what is “said” in the tray can only be expressed through seeing the actual tray. Homeyer and Sweeney provide many different types of case studies and examples from a myriad of types of clients- from kids to adults to couples.
3. Instructions on how a sandtray therapy session typically works
Working with kids and adults in the tray are very different and difficult for entirely different reasons. Chapter 5 provides a protocol for a sandtray therapy session, which is extremely helpful when you are starting out and are scared that you aren’t doing it “just right.”
4. Broad use of inclusive terms
Two camps exist in the sand world- sandtray and sandplay. Depending on who you talk to, you will get a wide variety of opinions about how important this differentiation actually is. Homeyer and Sweeney do an excellent job of side-stepping this whole issue and focusing on what actually works in the session with the clients. Needless to say, they don’t tote themselves as sandplay folks but do use some of the underpinning that is also used by the sandplay folks.
5. Discussion of sandtray from a brain-based perspective
Since this book was published in 2011, much more research has been published as to why expressive therapies, such as sandtray, work so well for trauma. Homeyer and Sweeney touch on the power of the sand from a brain-based perspective and provide a beginning platform for further reading about the neuroscience of sandtray and play therapy (I will write a follow-up post soon about my favorite books on the neuroscience of sandtray).
Although I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in sandtray therapy, just reading the book and getting some miniatures are not enough to work with clients ethically in the sandtray.
When you work with someone in the tray, you are getting into the deep stuff of trauma, early memories, and powerful brain-based forces. It’s uber important you are respectful of this and know what you are doing before messing with someone’s head.
This is why training is sooo very important. I recommend you get at the bare minimum a one day experiential training in sandtray before you start working with clients.
Surgeons don’t just read a book and be like “Ok, I’ve got it, let’s do surgery!” Neither should you.
Psychic surgery, such as sandtray therapy, can have lasting negative effects if done recklessly.
Again, get this book but ALSO attend your own training so that you can help others effectively and ethically. My bet is that you will fall in love with the process yourself and see such impactful results with your clients that you will wonder how you ever did therapy without it.
If any of this has caused your little therapist ears to perk up, do these two things:
1) Get the book here (no, I’m not paid or an affiliate or anything, I really do believe in what I’m saying)
2) Sign up to get my free webinar on the 5 myths of sandtray therapy. This will get you the free webinar but also get you on the list to get notified when I schedule new trainings. I have one set for the fall in Breckenridge, CO if any of you guys like a GORGEOUS mansion in a beautiful mountain town (who doesn’t #amIright).