The following article is an extract from: "Sandplay Therapy - a step by step manual for psychotherapists of diverse orientation" by Barbara Labovitz Boik and E. Anna Goodwin
In sandplay therapy the therapist pro vides a sand tray, water, and a multitude of objects and materials with which to imaginatively create scenes in the circumscribed space of the sand tray. Sandplay can be used effectively with children, adults, couples, families, and groups. As Ruth Ammann analogized, the sand tray is like "a soul garden", a kind of container for the display of the client's psychic life. The sand tray is an "in-between-space," where the client's inner and outer life can develop and reveal itself. The tray is that free and empty space where the client has the opportunity to create her/ his own world and transform her/his existing world with fresh insight. The therapist provides a safe and accepting environment in which the client can allow her/his inner voice to speak. To continue Ammann's metaphor, this "in-between-space," in which the conscious and uncon scious material can unfold, come together, and be made concrete, is also the space between the client and the therapist. This is the space where the unconscious and conscious of the therapist and the client meet and interact (Ammann, 1994).
Sandplay provides the client access to her/his innermost feeling core or psyche. In sandplay therapy the client represents in images what is happening in her/his inner and outer world. By making concrete what the inner voice is expressing, the client brings into external reality her/ his own relationship with her/himself and allows unconscious material to be revealed. This concrete, observable manifestation of subliminal material brings into greater consciousness that which has heretofore been repressed or unknown.
In the course of people's lives they create personas to interface with the external world. They often repress feelings and thoughts and lose touch with their Selves, the center of their psyches. The constant activ ity and demands of individuals' everyday lives, the dissociation from traumatic and painful experiences, the messages people receive to shut off their feelings, to be rational or think linearly, to conform and to subdue their imaginations, all serve to block them from their Selves. The more people are blocked, the more disparate the persona is from the Self. "The deeper the emotions and feelings are covered up, the more distanced from consciousness memories and a part of our person alities have become, the less likely it is that we can find the words to express them" (Ammann, 1993). As they become more aware of their unconscious processes by allowing the unknown to be seen through the creation of the sand world, individuals can gain energies and insights which were denied to them. In describing Jungian theory, David Hart, in an interview with Adelaide Bry, stated that "the cooper ation of conscious and unconscious life leads to a greater unity and greater strength within the individual" (in Centerpoint I, 1995, p. 19). Sandplay can provide the framework for this cooperation.