Transformation in Sandplay

through Image, Story and Ceremony


The hands are the mediators between spirit and matter, between an inner image and an actual creation. By handling, the existing energies become visible.

Ruth Ammann

Sandplay therapy is a non-verbal, expressive therapeutic method developed by Dora M. Kalff, drawing upon the works of Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung and the pioneering English pediatrician and play therapist Margaret Lowenfeld. At this national conference, we  will explore sandplay as an embodied, symbolic approach to healing.

Both Jung and Lowenfeld focused on the healing aspects of play. We know that Jung created structures on the shore of the Lake Zurich as a way of working out inner conflict. In London, Margaret Lowenfeld observed the change that occurred in traumatized children as they played and told their stories. Jung’s life work centered on images of transformation in which “the psyche tells its own story.” Kalff incorporated these ideas in developing her approach, enriched by her personal connection with Tibetan and Zen Buddhism.

The sandplay process provides an immediate body experience and, over time, has the capacity to reawaken the imaginative and creative forces lying deep in the client’s psyche. In so doing, the sandplay process tells a profound story. Often therapists witness and hold rituals with a client - the sprinkling of dry sand or water over elements in the tray, or the lighting of candles.  These ceremonial actions restore “the soul to embodied life” (Donald Kalsched)

Keynote and plenary sessions will focus on integration of the roots of sandplay with findings from neuroscience, a Jungian emphasis on psyche as embodied, and experiential approaches that complement the sandplay process.