Sandplay is a cross-cultural, trauma-informed and 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 serves as a Research Editor for the Journal of Sandplay Therapy and chair of the STA research committee. She recently published research articles on the Effect of Sandplay Therapy on the Thalamus in the Treatment of GAD , “The Lava Ate My School”: The use of Group Sandplay to Reduce Anxiety and Post-traumatic Stress in Displaced Elementary School Students, and the Added Value of Sandplay Therapy for Emerging Adults in Outdoor Behavioral Health. She is an award winning researcher for her studies of sandplay and people with traumatic brain injury Freedle TBI-Sandplay Article JST 2007 and youth with co-occurring trauma and alcohol/drug addiction Freedle et al sandplay-trauma-substance abuse 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 working with a team of researchers on a meta-analysis of Sandplay Therapy.
Dr. Freedle’s research has revealed an underlying mechanism of sandplay called the Sandplay Sensory 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.
Dr. Freedle has also been studying sandplay therapy in the context of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.
Sandplay and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics
If you are interested in sandplay, please email Dr. Lorraine Freedle at firstname.lastname@example.org.