- General therapy
- Neuroscience of therapy
- Play Therapy
- Sandtray Hacks
- Sandtray therapy
- Therapy Techniques
You’ve got it.
You know what you’re doing with your sandtray sessions.
But, then it happens. You sit down at your computer and then NOTHING.
You know this stuff works, but you’re just not sure how to write in a way that makes sense for others (like auditors and insurance companies).
Never fear, I’m here to provide you with 5 quick guidelines to decrease the worry and anxiety about typing up those notes.
*Wipes sweat off brow*
Here we go!
State what happened.
No need to go all crazy with getting into details of theories and different meanings in a large portion of your notes. Write what happened in the session.
Was the client silent? Then note that.
Client was hyper talkative and moved the miniatures around throughout the session? Jot that down.
Client worked in the sandtray throughout much of the session. Client placed only 2 items in the sand, which were a firetruck and police car. Client crashed them together making loud noises throughout the session.
2. State what you did or said.
Again, don’t re-invent the wheel here. State if you reflected, processed, tracked, summarized the movement or actions of the client in the sandtray.
This is especially easy for adults but may be a bit more difficult for children – read Garry Landreath’s The Art of the Relationship if you need help on how to interact with a child in the sandtray. (really, this book is a must-read for anyone working with children in play therapy anyway.)
Therapist reflected throughout the session the movement of the client in the sandtray. Noted when the client removed the fences in the tray and used the “I wonder” statements to inquire about clients actions in the sandtray session.
3. Use the term “consistent with” in your notes.
When you note themes or patterns in the tray, avoid stating that “X means Y.”
We never know the EXACT reason a client puts something in the tray (unless they say verbally,) but we can note when themes arise that are consistent with other items.
Client placed many rows in the sand of soldiers and other people. This excessive row making is often consistent with anxiety.
4. Use common themes in the sandtray within your documentation.
Review healing themes and problematic themes to help identify and then document what occurred.
If you know your stuff– and you should if you’re doing sandtray– YOU’VE GOT THIS. (IF NOT, you need to go back 2 spaces and join the Sandtray Suite for $1. )
Client placed a candle in the center of the tray with rocks surrounding the center. This centering theme is consistent with healing and progress, which is also consistent with what client has reported with her progress with anxiety.
5. Note what changed.
One of the keys in the sandtray session is movement and progress. We want to note what has changed between session and within session.
Movement = change = progress =integration
Client began the session with a large dragon in the fence, which she stated represented her rape. Over the course of the session, client stated she wanted to take the dragon out because she did not want it be such a large part of her life. This movement is consistent with healing.
Now then, anytime you feel that stress level start sneaking up on you, you can simply refer back to this cheatsheet and know that you’ve got this!
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
You want to cut down the guess work and just have it done for you??
Good news — I’ve done just that with my check-box documentation template — The Sandtray Documentation Wizard.
Click this link to grab yours now!! —-> http://sandtraysuite.com/optin/
Being a sandtray therapist is awesome for so many reasons.
A LOT of people just don’t get what makes it the best but if you’re a sandtray therapist, you get it.
And I bet you’ll get some of these below as well.
So, without further a-do, here’s 20 things you’ll only get if you’re a sandtray therapist!!
1 Sleeping in on a Saturday morning, knowing that you’ll get the good stuff and the little trinkets for a super cheap. You love the stuff that everyone else has rummaged through.
2. Ordering the kids meal menu just for the little toy.
3. Buying girl stuff to play with when you have only boys living at your house.
4. Justifying your purchases with I can use it for work AND your kids.
5. The beauty of having your children/grandchildren get tired of little toys so you swipe them up.
6. Walking into a gas station out-of-state and seeing 80% off statues of local sites.
7. When you’re on the toy aisle looking at horses, and your oldest granddaughter informs the younger one that they are for sandtray.
8. It’s like it’s Christmas morning when you’re fact lights up because you’ve found a small empty bird nest and its 75% off!
9. You almost have a mouth-watering feeling driving past thrift stores, wanting to go inside to find all the unique miniatures that everyone else assumes is just junk.
10. Walking into your grandmother’s house seeing all of her figurines and eye-balling them for your collection.
12. Getting home and realizing you have sand everywhere – your pant legs, hair, and even eyebrows!
13. “Borrowing” your child’s toys for your miniature collection.
14. When there’s sand in everything you own….and you’re perfectly fine with it.
16. The check-out lady looking at you weird because you’re buying 20 of the same item, all because they’re on clearance and you know your fellow sandtray therapists will love them.
17. Having your brother tell you “it’s for the kids” when he sees you starting at your nephews new little car they brought back from England.
18. The frustration and insult you feel when someone just doesn’t get it and says “Huh, you’re just playing in the sand?”
19. You’ve had a hard day and realize you are unconsciously running your hands through the sand because you know it helps you relax and feel better almost instantly.
20. The beauty and pride (and even jealously) of well-ordered and well-stocked sandtray shelves.
Short and sweet will this blog post be (kinda like me!)
So many times you just don’t know where to go with your clients. You know sandtray therapy works but aren’t sure about what to say or do to help your client get from where they are now to where they want to be.
Sandtray therapy directives are your answer to those times when you just feel lost or when your client looks at me like “what does that even mean” when you ask them to build their world in the sand.
This free download provides you with a starting place for clients of all ages – from school-aged children, to couples, to those hard-nosed adults that look at you like you’re crazy when you talk about sandtray.
Grab your free download by clicking HERE .
It’s a massive 7-pager, chocked-full of ready-to-implement directives for your sandtray practice.
So you’ve researched and scoured the Internet looking for the EXACT size of tray that you need..
..but you’ve come up empty-handed, and maybe a bit more confused than you were to start (I HATE it when that happens – like when a hangnail turns into finger cancer thankyouverymuch WebMD).
I’m here to save the day!
With this post, you’re going to get the down and dirty details about what you need (or don’t) in your sandtray.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Question #1: What size should my tray be?
Answer: In short, whatever you would like. However, I’m here to tell you that some sizes just plain work better than others in general. *Sidenote: I’m a sandtray therapist (not sandplay) so I have much more leeway with the size of my tray*
What I’ve found that works:
For most trays, I like for my trays to be 3.5 inches deep by 20 inches wide. My general, go-to trays look like this (I’ve included a Diet Coke can for reference – if you’re anything like me, measurements and directions leave me dumbfounded, I need REFERENCES people).
The 3.5 inch tray:
I have attempted to have the tray not so deep and it did not turn out well.
Here’s one of my trays that is only 2.5 inches deep.
Pro tip: The “messier” the sand – like kinetic sand – the deeper you are going to want your tray. My kinetic sand constantly gets all over my floor, which leads me to almost constant frustration.
Even given the constant clean-up, I still would never take the kinetic sand out of the sandtray room, especially while I’m working with children. Adults hate the stuff – won’t even go near it.
Question #2 Does my tray have to be wooden?
Nope. Lucky for all of us, the power of sandtray therapy isn’t reliant upon the exact materials being just right.
[Tweet “The power of sandtray lies in the relationship and the ability to work with the whole brain.”]
I like to have wooden trays because I think they look nicer and hold up better.
Also, the wood hearkens back to the 4 elements that Jungian therapists often refer to with sandplay work (air, water, earth, and fire)- with wood relating to the Earth elements.
Again, it’s nice to have but definitely not a must.
Here’s a plastic tray I have in my playroom. I used this for years and had just as powerful sessions as I do now with my nice wooden ones.
Question #3- Does the inside of the tray have to be blue?
Again, I hardly ever say YES to something like this, but it is preferable to have the inside blue for practical reasons. Often the kids want to make water, lakes, or oceans in the the tray.
Since I don’t allow the use of actual water in my trays (because it gets the sand nasty and takes forever to dry), kids will just use the bottom and the sides to make the bodies of water they requested.
Why do we have blue in the first place? Again, it goes back to the Jungian roots, where the blue represented the air and water elements.
Question #4- How can I use the tray when I travel to homes, schools, or places other than my office.
Honestly, there’s no “right way” to do this but there’s a hard way and a much easier way.
The hard way: To carry your plastic tray with you full of sand along with a rolling bag (if you’re lucky) full of your miniatures.
Obviously, this is not ideal but sometimes, we don’t know another way.
Again, good news – I have a better way. Over time, I’ve worked with a local woodworker and then my husband to create the ideal all-in-one travel sandtray system.
It’s on rollers and the tray actually is strapped onto the top part so you can easily lift the whole system up and into your car when you are finished.
The top of the tray hold sand and the lid fits snugly onto it so sand doesn’t spill all in your car or wherever you are working.
Also, I put my miniatures in the bottom part, along with any paperwork or anything else I need so it’s literally a one-stop-sandtray-shop.
Here’s a few more pictures so you can see how it works
Question #5 How can I get my tray to easily turn?
It’s always helpful for us as sandtray therapists to be able to see all parts of the tray in as much detail as possible. You never know when the client has put something in just the right place that you would miss it if you weren’t able to see it from all angles.
What do I do?
I use a Lazy-Susan underneath my sand tray. I bought a decent one at Bed, Bath and Beyond and it’s held up amazingly well over the years. I’ve never been afraid of the tray falling off and the Lazy-Susan stays in place unless I move it myself.
Here’s what the tray looks like when its turned a bit with the Lazy-Susan under it.
Question #6: What about a round tray?
If you like it, go for it. I had one built for me several years ago because I was planning to do a group therapy in the tray training, but it ends up getting used ALL THE TIME by my little clients.
Seriously ya’ll, I could just have a round tray full of kinetic sand and my littles would probably never leave my room.
Little ones are drawn more to the round tray because they live in their right brains much more than we do as adults. Right brains like circular items or non-standard, linear items. We left-brained adults in the Western world seem to love right angles and boxes.
If you work with adults, don’t worry so much about a round tray. Most of adults don’t use it.
However, it’s worth an investment if you are planning to work with littles for a long period of time.
Question #7: Is it sandtray or sand tray?
Here’s a guide:
If you’re using it as a noun, separate the words “sand” and “tray.”
You can see the graphic at the top of this post, you notice that the words are separated. Because I’m talking about the actual tray that you use in your practice, I use the two words (it’s a noun).
If you’re describing the type of therapy you do, such as “sandtray therapy” put the words “sand” and “tray” together.
Similar to how sandplay folks describe what they do as “sandplay therapy,” I do sandtray therapy.
Now you know!
And if you want even MORE of the sandtray goods, grab my FREE sandtray technique, The Jack-in-the-Box.
This technique is my get-out-of-jail-free technique in all of my sandtray sessions – grab yours now!