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TSTA believes that Sandtray is fundamentally a nondirective approach, although directive techniques can be applied when appropriate, as guided by the Sandtray therapist’s clinical judgement and theoretical orientation. The therapeutic stance is client centered, allowing the client to lead the process and interpret his or her own work while the therapist demonstrates total positive regard. Because the client’s work is symbolic, the therapist stays in the metaphor. The sandtray is a sacred space that must be protected from all intrusions, including the therapist’s or another’s body, interpretation and/or narrative. 

Although we acknowledge the many people who have contributed to the creation and continued evolution of Sandtray, we also believe that this modality began with the World Technique, created by Margaret Lowenfeld. We believe Dora Kolff took World Technique and through her Jungian theoretical perspective made adaptations to the modality which became Sand Play. From Sand Play, Sandtray has evolved.


TSTA recommends that therapists who are going to use the modality of sandtray therapy have at least 2 levels (12 hours each) of sandtray training that are in-person and experiential in nature before offering it to clients. We align with the ethical guidelines that the use of supervision and consulting is important to ensuring client safety for any modality when first beginning to use it.

​Sandtray Therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client. 
Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized sandtray therapy as a primary intervention or as a supportive modality. Common concerns, such as grief, divorce, abandonment, life transitions and trauma may be processed using sandtray therapy. 

The clinical sandtray therapist is mindful of the following:

  • The majority of sandtray work is non-directed.

  • The therapist creates a free and protected space by following the lead of the client.

  • Sandtray therapists respect the client's work by not physically entering into the build space (world) without being invited by the client.

  • The therapist is aware that the client is the expert about their world. We do not interpret worlds. The client owns what the world means.

  • The therapist uses the language of the builder.

  • The therapist is responsible for clearing the tray and does so after the client has left the building area.

  • Sandtray work is honored and respected. We do this by holding confidentiality and, in the case of minors, asking permission before disclosing information about a build with a guardian or parent.

  • The sandtray therapist consults with other sandtray therapists when needed and continues to receive training to keep updated with the latest sandtray best practices.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding TSTA's Best Practices in Sandtray Therapy, please contact us at​

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