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Frequently Asked Questions about Certification

How do I find trainings in Levels 1-4?

Our approved trainers are invited to advertise their courses on our trainings page here We also keep a current list of our approved trainers here, and you may contact them directly to inquire about any trainings they may be offering.  



I'm confused by all the different acronyms! Can you clarify the main difference?

The Clinical Certification in Sandtray Therapy (CCST) is a certification intended for licensed mental health professionals who have competed levels 1-4 of sandtray training. The School-Based Certification in Sandtray Therapy (SB-CST) requires the same level of training, but is intended for school counselors.


The Advanced Certification in Sandtray Therapy (CCST-AC) is for those who have completed levels 1-10 of sandtray training.


Last, the Clinical Certified Sandtray Therapist – Trainer has completed a minimum of levels 1-4, has been certified as any of the above for at least a year, and has completed additional coursework to become a trainer. You can read more about all of the qualifications here.

What are all the levels?

  • Level One: Basic Tools & Methods for Experiencing Sandtray 
  • Level Two: Basic Clinical Skills of Witnessing Sandtray Work in Play Therapy 
  • Level Three: Symbolic Integration of Sandtray and Play Therapy 
  • Level Four: Advanced Clinical Skills in Sandtray Play Therapy 
  • Level Five: The Unique Process of Group Sandtray & Play Therapy
  • Level Six: Children & Adolescents in Sandtray and Play Therapy
  • Level Seven: Exploring the Adult Experience in Sandtray Play Therapy
  • Level Eight: Utilizing Sandtray Play Therapy with Families & Couples
  • Level Nine: The Use of Sandtray Play Therapy in Identifying and Processing Trauma
  • Level Ten: Processing Grief Using Sandtray Play Therapy

Am I allowed to complete Levels 1-4 while I'm still an intern/associate?

Yes, you can go ahead with your sandtray training while still an associate; however, you will NOT be able to apply for your CCST until you're fully-licensed. In the meantime, you may describe yourself as "trained in sandtray therapy."

Can I apply for CCST-T without having been a CCST first?

No, TSTA requires that individuals be certified as clinical sandtray therapists (CCST, SB-CST, or CCST-AC) for one year before applying to be CCST Trainers. You can view the other criteria for applying to be a CCST-T here.  

My certification application or renewal was rejected. How can I appeal this?

Submit your request to the TSTA Executive Assistant at Your query will be forwarded to the current TSTA President, who will reach out to you and request a letter stating why you believe the rejection was made in error. Any supplementary materials you want to use as evidence can be submitted with the letter. The board will review the information at their next meeting and vote on whether your appeal will be accepted or not. This decision from the board is final.

I'm a CCST-AC and just received my training certificate. How should I advertise myself now?

You  may advertise yourself as a CCST-AC-T! (Note that you're not required to include the "AC" if it feels like a lot of letters. It's fine to call yourself a CCST-T.) 

Do my CEUs have to come from TSTA-approved trainers, or can they come from anyone?

It depends. For your initial certification, you must receive training in Levels 1-4 (or 1-10 if applying for advanced certification) from a TSTA-approved trainer. You can find the list of approved trainers here

However, once you're certified, the CEs you collect for renewal can be obtained from any licensed mental health professional, as long as the subject pertains to sandtray therapy.

How many CEUs are required for re-certification?

Our requirement for sandtray CEU’s is now 12 hours for every 2 years. Remember that you can gather CE’s from ANY sandtray trainings, including in person and virtual. 

I'm a CCST-T and have just now completed Levels 5-6. Can I go ahead and train others on those levels, or do I have to reapply for my training certificate again?

When you complete additional levels, you may begin training others on them without having to reapply. However, if asked by TSTA to offer proof of your additional training, you must be able to provide it.

If I received my CCST one year and then my CCST-T a year after that, when will I renew my certification? Do I have to renew them separately?

No, you only have to renew your most basic certification, whether that’s CCST, SB-CST, or CCST-AC. Your CCST-T is not renewed separately.


For example, if you became a CCST in April 2020, you’d renew in April 2022 and every 2 years after that, regardless of when you achieved your training certificate.

I want to renew my certification, but I won't have the right number of CEUs by the deadline. Will I lose my certification?

If this happens, please complete the renewal application as usual and submit what CEs you do have. Then, please send us an email at to let us know about your situation. You will enter a “deficient status” and be given 90 days to submit the rest of your CEs. During this deficient status, you cannot advertise yourself as a CCST, CCST-T, etc. However, if you complete your CEs within the 90 days, you will be reinstated to active status and will not have to reapply.


If you don’t complete your CEs within the 90 days and still want to be certified, you will need to apply all over again (including paying the initial application fee).


Note: If you enter a deficient status, your original certification date will still stand. For example, if your renewal date is February 2022 and you don’t reinstate until April 2022, your next renewal date would still be February 2024.






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