Eliana Gil, Ph.D., RPT-S

Program Goals

This workshop is designed for play therapists and other mental health professionals who have already taken an introductory or intermediate course on sand therapy. Participants will have opportunities to present a play therapy case in which sand therapy is a primary method of advancing play therapy goals. Still other participants will have an opportunity to join clinical case discussions in small groups. The clinical play therapy cases will be presented through pictures or recreations of sand trays in order to deepen a dialogue about the tray. Specifically, two seasoned play and sand therapists from different theoretical orientations (Humanistic and Jungian) will provide feedback using their individual lenses. The feedback will focus on the larger play therapy case and treatment goals, with focused attention on the organization of the tray, the process described for making the tray, the use of specific symbols, placement, centrality of issues manifested, and many other specific ways to “read” and comprehend the client’s communication. The presenters will highlight the therapeutic change agents activated in play and sand therapy sessions. In addition, children’s sand work will be discussed within the context of integrating sand with play therapy and other expressive therapies such as art, dramatic play, story-telling as well as amplifying symbols, and thinking systemically.  Explicitly, the program goals are to:

  • Provide opportunities for experiential learning regarding play and sand therapy
  • Allow play therapy participants to provide or observe clinical case examples with precise clinical questions;
  • Understand at least two play therapy therapeutic change agents operating in the use of sand therapy theoretical;
  • Deepen participant understanding of how to discern client communication about relevant clinical issues in relationship to play therapy goals;
  • Deepen the play (and child) therapist’s use of multiples lenses to assess sand trays;
  • Provide play therapy resources for symbols and metaphors;
  • Participate in feedback along with the two presenters designed to understand or advance play therapy goals;
  • Discuss how sand trays might be integrated with other expressive therapies such as play and art therapies;
  • Provide guidelines for play therapists so that they can observe and document sandtrays and define the thematic material shown in the sand;
  • Discuss how symbol language is incorporated and promotes play therapy goals using sand and play therapies;
  • Discuss overall play therapy and sand therapy techniques and their compatibility;
  • Discuss the integration of sand therapy with other play therapy


The specific objectives of this course are for participants to gain and demonstrate the following content areas:

  1. Present clinical sand trays with a specific consultation question related to sand or play therapy
  2. List two ways to incorporate sand therapy into a general play therapy practice
  3. List two compatibilities between sand therapy theory and play therapy theory
  4. List three ways you can transfer the thematic material in the sand tray to other play therapy activities
  5. Define the term “amplification questions” for use with play therapy metaphors or symbols
  6. Name three variables to reading sand trays for play therapists and others
  7. Discuss two gender-specific differences in sand trays and how those will influence choice of play therapy techniques

Program Schedule:

10:00 am-5:00 pm.

The daily schedule will consist of experiential work, instructor feedback to clinical sand trays, group processing, and provision of resources.  Participants are welcome to: 1) bring case presentations and/or slides with specific consultation questions; 2) present a portion of a videotaped session with a client specifying the question of concern; or 3) raise general questions about the practice of sand therapy. The group size is limited to 12 and will allow for 6 clinical case presentations daily.

Day One:  Clinical case presentations

  • Introductions and needs assessment: “Your wish list”
  • Clinical case presentations and feedback to 6 participants


Heiko, R. (2019). A therapist’s guide to mapping the girl heroine’s journey in Sandplay. NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Homeyer, L. & Sweeney, D. (2010, 2nd Ed). Sandtray therapy: A practical Manual. NY: Taylor & Schuster.

Zoja, E. P. (2011).  Sandplay therapy in vulnerable communities: A Jungian  Approach.  NY: Routledge.

Grayson, R., & Fraser, T. (2022). The embodied brain and sandtray therapy: Stories of healing and transformation. NY: Routledge.

Foo, M., Freedle, L.R., Sani, R. & Fonda, G. (2020). The effect of sandplay therapy on the thalamus in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: A case report. International Journal of Play Therapy, 29 (4), 191-200.

Homeyer, L., & Lyles, M. (2021).  Advanced sandtray therapy: Digging deeper in clinical practice.  NY: Routledge.

Roesler, C. (2019). Sandplay therapy: An overview of theory, applications and evidence base, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 64: 84-94.

Seifert, S. L., Wachter, U., Kumru, Z., Becker-Wordenweber, E., Hochadel, M., Schneider, S., Senges, C., & SAT group (2010). Sandplay therapy study: A prospective outcome study of Sandplay therapy with children and Adolescents, J. Of Sandplay Therapy:19 (2):  131-140.

Tan, J., Yin, H., Meng, T., & Gut, X. (2021). Effects of sandplay therapy in reducing emotional and behavioral problems in school-age children with chronic diseases: A randomized controlled trial, J. Of Nursing Open, November 8(6):  3099-3110.

Freedle, L. R. (2017). Healing trauma through sand-play therapy: A neuropsychological perspective. In B. Turner (Ed.), The Routledge International handbook of sandplay therapy (pp.190-206). NY, NY: Routledge.

Haehn, C. (2020). The Roles of Metaphor and Imagination in Child Trauma Treatment. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, ISSN: 1528-9168 (Print) 1940-9214 (Online) Journal homepage: Routledge.

General Course Information

This course is limited to 12 participants.

Clinical case discussions will adhere to HIPPA regulations regarding client confidentiality.

Target audience is Licensed Professional Counselors, MFTs, psychologists, social workers, play therapists and others who work with children.

This event is sponsored by Starbright Training Institute.  Starbright Training Institute is approved by the Association for Play therapy to offer continuing education specific to play therapy (APT Approved Provider No. 96-).

Myriam Goldin, LCSW; RPT-S, is Director of Starbright Training Institute.  Phone:  703-980-2886.  Email:   Web Page:

Complaints and Appeals:

Complaints against an Approved Provider should first be filed in writing with the Approved Provider directly for resolution. If satisfaction is not obtained, APT’s Continuing Education Coordinator should be contacted in writing to achieve a final resolution.

Grievance Policy

STI seeks to ensure equitable treatment of every person and to make every attempt to resolve grievances in a fair manner. Please submit a written grievance to: Myriam Goldin, LCSW; RPT-S, Director of Starbright Training Institute.  Phone:  703-980-2886.  Email:   Web Page:

Grievances would receive, to the best of our ability, corrective action in order to prevent further problems.

Accommodations for the Differently Abled

Starbright Training Institute’s training facilities are handicap accessible. Individuals needing special accommodations please contact the Director of Starbright Training Institute. See contact information above.