Eliana Gil, Senior Consultant

Program Goals

This course will explore the assessment and therapeutic potential of sand therapy integrated with play therapy, reviewing the theoretical models of Lowenfeld and Kalff.  Information will be provided on necessary equipment for conducting sand therapy in the context of a play therapy practice, and primary emphasis will be placed on experiential opportunities “reading sandtrays,” as well as the therapy posture of the play therapist and a range of possible ways to process trays. Incorporating sand with play therapy will be highlighted, specifically how thematic material gleaned from the sandtray can be processed using directive and nondirective play therapy techniques.  Specifically, the program goals are to:

  • Provide opportunities for experiential learning
  • Review the theoretical models for sand therapy
  • Help participants understand the potential for symbolic communication in sand therapy as well as other play therapy techniques
  • Provide guidelines for observing and documenting sandtrays and defining the thematic material shown in the sand
  • Discuss how symbol language is incorporated and promotes therapy goals using sand and play therapy
  • Discuss overall play therapy and sand therapy techniques and their compatibility theory
  • Discuss the integration of sand therapy with other play therapy techniques
  • Provide information on the selection and placement of miniatures; height and dimensions of sandtrays; and other basic information including categories of miniatures, recording sand tray information, and developing questions and observations for identifying or promoting treatment goals


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

  1. Define sand therapy and sand play
  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. Name two sand therapy theories and specify whether they are directive and nondirective
  5. Name two play therapy theories and define whether they are directive and nondirective
  6. List three ways you can transfer the thematic material in the sand tray to other play therapy activities
  7. Name three variables to reading sand trays
  8. Discuss two gender specific differences in sand trays and how those will influence choice of play therapy techniques

Program Schedule:

The daily schedule will consist of experiential work, group processing, and didactic presentations.  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.

Day One:  Experiential

  • Introductions and needs assessment: “Your wish list”

Day Two and Three:  The Basics, Processing, and Research

  • Basic Principles of Sand Therapy: Setting the context (props and miniatures) and making choices about how to incorporate sand into a play therapy practice
  • Defining how play and sand therapy practices are compatible and how they can utilize directive and nondirective approaches;
  • The process of “reading” sandtrays and sand therapy process, identifying thematic material, and addressing themes through general play therapy
  • individual and stylistic differences and symbol communication in children utilizing sand and play therapies
  • Looking for energy spots, signs of resiliency, signs of conflict expressed in the sand box and identifying consistency with general play therapy themes
  • Documenting sandtrays through photo, written descriptions, or sketches
  • Developing therapeutic dialogues consistent with play therapy approaches on the directive/nondirective continuum: Engaging left-brain activity and body movement
  • Using sand therapy material to construct and promote play therapy goals and to inform the use of collateral activities
  • Learning to respond to symbolic communication in play and sand therapies in open-ended ways
  • Countertransferential material and self-care for play therapists utilizing symbol work: client versus therapist attribution of meaning
  • Resources for play therapy, sand therapy, and symbols
  • This course is designed to facilitate group discussion and processing by having a limited size (Maximum 25 participants). There will be ample opportunities to discuss specific needs and concerns.
  • The schedule may be altered slightly if needed. However, written or lecture information will be presented in all content areas.  Each participant will receive a power point presentation, and other resource information.


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 20 participants and is designed to facilitate experiential work, group discussion, and processing of clinical material.  Participants will have ample opportunity to discuss their specific needs and clinical questions.  Participant feedback will be sought out throughout the day.

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

Target audience is Mental Health Professionals: Social Workers, Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed marriage and Family Therapists.

The program is Beginning Level

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. 96-029).

Myriam Goldin, LCSW; RPT-S, is Director of Starbright Training Institute.  Phone:  703-679-7054.  Email:   Web Page:

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.

There is no known commercial support nor conflict of interest for this program.

Course Instructor Contact Information

Name:  Eliana Gil, Ph.D.



Phone:  202-257-2783