Sandtray play therapy facilitates communication by offering an externalized method for
self-expression and access to the unconscious. Multi-modal approaches to sandtray
integrate multiple modalities into a single intervention or session. For some clients,
utilizing multi-modal approaches in the sandtray play therapy process may enhance the
therapeutic powers of play of resiliency and self-regulation. In this workshop, we will
discuss methods of integrating modalities into the sandtray process to engage the whole-
brain with consideration for bottom-up and top-down processes. Mindfulness and
movement, music, writing, art, and symbolic play will be addressed. Attendees will
identify methods for engaging children, adolescents, and adults in the multi-modal
sandtray play process.
1. Define multi-modal therapy from an expressive arts perspective to include play
2. Describe how multi-modal methods may be employed in sandtray play therapy
session to increase emotional and physical regulation
3. Identify methods for integrating the whole brain into the sandtray play therapy
Lecture, experiential activities, small group work
Practitioners of sandtray herald the therapeutic gain and insight derived from the sandtray
process, and while theoretical orientation influences the degree of directive interventions,
many clients may benefit from integrating multi-modal techniques.
Throughout this workshop, the basic principles of SandTray Play Therapy process will be
shared in the context of honoring a person, concept, or resource through the SandTray
Play Therapy. First, participants will explore the concept of honoring, also known as
memorializing or “making-special”. Both the social and individual benefits will be
discussed. Next, working in pairs, the participants will choose a miniature that expresses
a personal quality that they feel comfortable sharing. Then, working in small groups (4 or
5 people), participants will build individual SandTray worlds designed to honor a person,
concept, or resource that is important to them. After the individual building process, the
presenters will describe and demonstrate both the silent and reflective witnessing
perspective as embodying attunement and co-regulation. This discussion will also include
the neurobiological aspects of play therapy such as reflection, nonverbal process, and free
expression. The builder will choose the witnessing process, silent or reflective, that is the
most comfortable, for him or her. Finally, each member of the entire group will choose an
object to honor, either from his or her tray, or from the collection, and will place it in a
large group tray. A general group discussion of the workshop will follow, including
personal reactions, possible applications in clinical practice, and overall social benefit of honoring.
1. Participants will discuss and demonstrate the psychotherapeutic process
incorporating mindfulness, self-awareness, and social bonding when utilizing
sandtray in a play therapy environment.
2. Participants will discuss and apply the building and witnessing aspects of the
sandtray play therapy process.
3. Participants will identify personal benefits of building an “Honoring” sandtray,
the clinical applications of the activity, and the overall social aspects of the
honoring process in groups.
This workshop will focus on trauma and how it can impact the body and brain.
We will explore the modality of Sandtray as an intervention of treatment.
1. Describe three key aspects of trauma
2. Explain two changes in the brain due to trauma
3. Apply Sandtray Play Therapy theory to facilitate healing
Metaphors are often used in play therapy and sandtray by children to create a bridge
between fantasy and real life events. Fantasy play takes on a number of beneficial
functions that support shifting wounds into wisdom. Miniatures can embody aspects of a
child’s personality and/or
life events that are often complex, unacceptable or anxiety provoking for them to
understand. The superhero (extraordinary or fallible) steps in to offer emotional release,
instillation of hope, redemption, and/or a temporary sense of power. Participants will
experience their own tray work, expose the characteristics of their metaphoric superhero
within and discuss the heroe’s journey.
1) demonstrate active witnessing when the client’s inner conflict calls a superhero to the
play therapy adventure
2) prepare to use empathy and validation as the hero exposes its fallibility in sandtray and
the play therapy adventure
3) identify and discuss steps for staying in the metaphor as the client finds themselves in
the belly of the whale.