The Sandplay therapeutic method was developed by Dora Kalff, based on the concepts of the analytical psychology created by C.G. Jung.
Estelle Weinrib, in her book Images of the Self (Temenos Press), explains in a simple and complete manner how complex is that method:
“Sandplay is a nonverbal, non-rational form of therapy that reaches a profound preverbal level of the psyche. In this psychotherapeutic modality clients create three-dimensional scenes, pictures or abstract design in a tray of specific size, using sand, water and a large number of miniature realistic figures.”
Dora Kalff emphasizes one of Jung’s basic postulates: the psyche has an autonomous tendency that comes from the deep of the unconscious and moves towards its own cure.
Sandplay is, then, a “free and protected” space for the child or adult to express images of his or hers unconscious, in a symbolic and tangible manner, in a box containing sand.
The creation of the scenes and the contact with the sand favor the encounter with psyche contents in a profound, pre-verbal level. The scenes, as tridimensional expressions of unconscious contents, link the inner world with the external one, making it possible for the connection between the ego and the Self to be restored.
The images are generated in silence, with no need for words or interpretation. It happens in the space provided by the analyst, the one who shelters, observes, listens to, and shares, silently, that moment with the patient. As Ruth Ammann states in Healing and Transformation in Sandplay (Open Court Publishing Company):
“A sand picture can also be seen as the garden of one’s soul, where the inner and the outer come together. Here, in protected space, a person can learn to watch and recognize the reciprocal action between the inner and the outer world.”