Jungian Sandplay is a therapeutic method that uses sand, miniature objects and image making within the context of the psychology of Carl Jung. It is a method of therapy offered to all age groups (11 years and upwards). What the client will notice first is that in the therapy room there are two rectangular trays of sand, one with dry sand and the other with wet sand along with shelves filled with miniature objects and figurines. For most adults at first glance, they might assume it is only for work with young people. It can be curious and puzzling for adults (and often young people) to realise that playing with sand and objects in this therapeutic setting can help them in a significant and profound way.
Jungian sandplay is a method of ‘depth psychotherapy’. This means that it offers a specialised way to learn more about internal experience and working through difficulties sourced there. It is a technique that was developed by Dora Kalff, as she applied the psychology of Carl Jung to image making through sandplay. She discovered how expression through the medium of sand and miniatures/figurines could be understood in a symbolic way, to promote greater awareness, self insight and understanding. Dora Kalff and Carl Jung both believed that image making could offer greater therapeutic value and insight than words alone. This forms the basis of Jungian sandplay, in making it possible to work with deep levels of experience through a non-verbal creative process. Using this method new areas of awareness can be brought into consciousness through the sensory experience of working with both sand and objects. Like dreams, which through their scenes and story can give us insight into unconscious experience, sandplay scenes similarly include forms, figures and actions, and can be symbolically explored and reflected upon.
Jungian sandplay is often sought by people who may feel stuck, find that ‘talking about’ does not reach far enough. It is also sought by those who wish to discover more about their own individual meaning, purpose and innateness. It is available to anyone who would like to explore more creatively. Jungian sandplay can be of particular interest to people who experience a level of disillusionment or loss of connection with the world around them. It is a very effective therapeutic support to working with the more difficult human feelings such hopelessness, despair and futility and also where individuals may fear feeling uncontained, overwhelmed or of ‘falling apart’.
To have opportunity to explore your true sense of self is likely to be a satisfying, lasting and supportive experience. Without this implicit connection, you may find that you are repeatedly looking for something often in the outer world, a completeness that remains elusive. There is an urge present in every human, the urge towards individuation or living from a sense of ‘who I truly am’. It is considered to be one of the strongest human urges and Jungian sandplay offers a way to explore this further.
Dreams, visualisation and images are known to help us to connect our inner and outer worlds, to help us gain greater self insight. This process of connection between inner and outer worlds, is referred to in Jungian psychology as ‘coagulation’. It is the idea of two substances mixing together to solidify or ‘set’ and form something new. In our varied life experiences, moods and affects can toss us about wildly until they find a way to ‘coagulate’ into something visible and tangible, which we can then understand, relate to and make sense of. Jungian sandplay follows this process as a natural and human way to connect with the inner self experience. It is through the experience of moulding the sand, working with water and objects, letting something happen, be it felt as creative or destructive that then, in symbolic form, creates this ‘coagulation’. As the sandplay process progresses, it tends to be accompanied by movement into a more instinctive conscious awareness as right brain expression is supported, often verbalised by remarks as clients work in the sand, such as ‘I don’t know what I am making’ or ‘I don’t know why I am putting this in’ in reference to an object they may have selected.
The therapist provides the necessary container for the work both physically and psychologically. It is essential for the clients experience that they feel safe in trusting the therapist and that they sense the therapists capacity to hold openness to the the deeper possibility in the material. The therapist needs to be able to align with the unconscious experience in both themself and the client. This provides, what we call in sandplay, the uniquely therapeutic ‘free and protected’ space. This is the term used to describe the space where inner and outer reality can be kept separate,yet connection can be noticed and integrated as the work proceeds. It requires a very skillful therapist with a deep understanding of the process and the appropriateness of interventions. While many therapists may offer sandplay it is important to be aware that there are currently only three Irish Jungian Sandplay therapists registered with the regulating international body (ISST).
You can make an appointment for psychotherapy by contacting me directly by phone or email. You do not need a referral from a GP. It might be helpful for you to be aware however that Revenue have indicated that fees can be claimed as a medical expense against tax once there is a GP referral. It is important that you contact Revenue to clarify such possible tax relief in regard to your own circumstances.