Sandplay and the Alchemical Imagination – Denver, Colorado

Sandplay and the Alchemical Imagination – Denver, Colorado

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April 8, 2017
9:00 am - 4:00 pm


“Sandplay and the Alchemical Imagination”

Presented by Laurel Howe, MA, CST-T, Diplomate Jungian Analyst

Denver, Colorado

Date: April 8, 2017

Time: 9AM – 4PM




Sandplay therapists often witness in clients what seem like magical healing processes. How can a person creating a series of sandtray images, without directive intervention from a therapist, find their way to a more balanced attitude in themselves? How do we help without helping?

When we look deeply into sandplay as a projective phenomenon, we begin to see how its healing process engages the “other world” of the unconscious psyche as it manifests in the sandplayer’s imagination. The psyche in sandplay heals itself, in a way that can seem magical because partially hidden in the client’s imagination. Working in the tray, the client “sees” and interacts with the concrete reality of her figures; she also sees and interacts with what is autonomously projected onto those figures from her own psyche. The projection is a hidden, secret reality of spirit that comes forward of its own accord and reveals itself in the sandtray. In that revelation we may glimpse a part of our client’s imaginal realm and its healing aim, but even when we don’t know the whole story taking place in that realm, our main job is to honor and value its presence. Honoring the sacred potential of the images in the tray, we honor the healing power of the imaginal realm.

In sandplay and in alchemy, the imagination brings conscious and unconscious realms together and allows them to coexist in a retort, where they are changed and where they have a transformative effect on the client. The “retort” in sandplay is most immediately the sandtray itself, but engages the whole temenos of the safe and sheltered space, including the therapeutic situation and the relationship between therapist and the client. Every aspect of the “retort” has conscious and unconscious aspects; our consciousness of that fact and our ability to contain the whole of the situation tilts the sandplay process towards healing the whole client.

Workshop is partially based on the case in Laurel’s book, War of the Ancient Dragon: Transformation of Violence in Sandplay. 

Participants will:

  • Understand how sandplay heals through imagination and projection.
  • Learn what the alchemists mean by “imaginatio,” and how it applies to healing in witnessed play.
  • Get introduced to the four alchemical stages of transformation and how it can appear in play.
  • Understand how sandplay engages the unconscious in projection.
  • Learn how to encourage clients to engage the imaginal realm.

Laurel’s Bio

Laurel Howe is a Jungian analyst who earned her diploma from the Center for Research and Training in Depth Psychology According to C.G. Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz in Zürich. She is a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado, a teaching member of the International Society of Sandplay Therapy and the Sandplay Therapists of America, and an advisory board member of the Colorado Sandplay Therapy Association. She has a private practice in Lakewood, Colorado where she works with children and adults and mentors students of analytic psychotherapy and sandplay therapy. In addition to sandplay and alchemy, Laurel writes and presents lectures on the history and psychological meaning of Mary Magdalene and feminine archaeological images from the Levant prior to and during the development of the Old Testament.

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