A Journey into the Sand
In this blog I will discuss my journey of starting up Sandtray training!
Planting the Seed
As a relatively recent counseling graduate, I’ve received various messages that I need more training. Something to set us counselors apart from each other; appear more competent; follow the latest trend, etc. I’ve been resistant to the idea.
However, during my time in graduate school a seed was planted. The seed came in a packet labeled “supervision interventions.” Some of my supervisors chose to incorporate sandtray activities into supervision sessions with us students. I found it really interesting and could get a sense of the emotional treasure it could unearth.
Forming the Roots
Then several years later and much time spent musing over different trainings that never seemed to quite fit with how I work, I received a generic email notice for an in-depth sandtray training held at my old university Texas State University. After figuring out finances, time, and long-term commitment I decided to sign up. Going back to school (literally to the same undergraduate university) has had its layers for me personally.
A Delicate Sprout Appears
Once I could fully process those layers, the experience of the sand began to envelope me. Even just placing my hand in the sand during a long day of training was so grounding to me. We learned about how the different types and varieties of sand activate us in different ways. We felt the power of integrating right and left brain into the process of creating scenes, worlds, stories, metaphors, and symbolism.
I enjoyed the privilege of working with adults who are able to connect to metaphor, draw on memory, and process at length the sandtrays they create. Taking folks back to touching mini-figures and using the imagination in the sand has a magical quality. A quality we may have lost growing up- either by having to grow up too fast, or by never having the chance to be a kid in the first place.
The Stem Grows
I also learned the importance of not judging or even making interpretations of what folks create in the tray. This activity is not meant to be diagnostic (i.e. oh if you pick the wet sand that definitely means you have problems with your mother). Sandtray is also not meant to be about the product of the creating (I’m looking at you, artists!). It is instead about the process of creating and letting the final scene impact you emotionally. Sandtray is meant to allow the client and the counselor experience parts of the client’s world with right-mode brain processing. It feels safer this way.
Flower Petals Unfurl
Since the training started I’ve begun to collect miniature figures for my very own sandtray setup. The recommended amount is a lot, but not too much. My hope is to have a collection that is extensive but doesn’t overwhelm people wanting to use this intervention. The process of choosing objects has been a journey in and of itself. I’ve learned to be really intentional when choosing them. Once I started, I experienced collector’s joy!
A Flower is Cared For
There is something that feels very full circle about being able to geek out about different toys to use professionally with my geeky clients. Each counselor’s collection is going to be unique. I love that I get to be mindful about choosing objects that might mean something to the folks I work with.
For now, I will continue to build my collection and soak up the wonderful training experience. I will receive my Sandtray Training Certificate in November of this year (2019).
If you are an adult in the Austin area wanting a counselor who caters to folks who are geeks, gamers, and/or misfits AND offers sandtray as a mode of counseling, feel free to reach out to me!
Julia Stamman, LPC
Hi, I’m Julia! I’m an LPC (licensed professional counselor) practicing in South Austin. I understand the personal importance of a therapist groking my lifestyle, so I started helping others who identify as geeks, gamers, and/or misfits. Over time, I realized that I’m passionate about attachment-related trauma, social anxiety, and neurodiversity. On this blog, I write on topics like the overlap of alternative culture and mental health, and how to find services catered to these lifestyles.