Lorraine Freedle

Sandplay Therapy

sandplaySandplay is a cross-cultural, non-directive method of psychotherapy founded by Dora Kalff with roots in play therapy, Jungian psychology, and contemplative practices. Sandplay combines play, active imagination, symbolic expression, and meditation to provide children and adults an experiential means to tap into the unconscious and facilitate psychological healing and transformation.

The sand player is provided with a tray of sand, water and other resources such as figurines and items from nature, and is invited to create a scene of their choosing. Sandplay is done in the presence of an attuned, trained therapist who witnesses the process without judgment or premature interpretation. Sandplay pictures provide a window into a person’s inner state, including psychological conflicts and potentialities.

By creating a series of sand trays in the safety of the therapeutic space, a natural psychological healing process is brought forth. Different aspects of the psyche interrelate and move toward resolution and wholeness, resulting in positive behavior change, renewed vitality, and a sense of meaning and deeper purpose in life.

A core premise of sandplay is that healing and transformation are made possible through successive encounters with one’s sacred and directing center—called the Buddha nature or essential self in some traditions and defined by Jung as the Self.

Dr. Freedle is a certified member of the Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) and the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST).  She has been studying and practicing sandplay since 1989. Dr. Freedle conducts sandplay therapy, personal process work, consultation, training and research.

Dr. Freedle’s Research in Sandplay

Dr. Freedle serves as a Research Editor for the Journal of Sandplay Therapy and chair of the STA research committee.  She is a two-time recipient of the STA Research Award:  In 2008 she earned the award for her studies of sandplay and the individuation process in adults with  traumatic brain injury. Freedle TBI-Sandplay Article JST 2007.  In 2016 she earned the award for her studies in the role of sandplay in the treatment of adolescents and young adults with co-occurring trauma and alcohol/drug addiction. Freedle et al BEAR Article JST 2015.  Dr. Freedle’s current research interests center on studying the multi-sensory aspects of sandplay therapy and the process of neural integration in the treatment of trauma. She is also examining sand trays of children, adolescents and young adults in the context of Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT).

Dr. Freedle’s research has revealed an underlying mechanism of sandplay called Sandplay’s Neurosensory Feedback Loop

She has also discovered a pattern of healing called the Seven Phases of Sandplay Therapy.  Although this pattern revealed itself in research with adults with TBI, the Seven Phases of Sandplay are consistent with universal motifs of healing (e.g., Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Jung’s individuation process) and are a useful lens through which to understand the sandplay process.



If you are interested in sandplay, please email Dr. Lorraine Freedle at lrfreedle@gmail.com.