Cunningham, Linda

Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 8, Number 1, 1999

KEY WORDS: participation mystique, projective identification, sandplay therapy, neglect, “between,” numinous, transcendent.

ABSTRACT: The case of a disassociative adult female client is briefly presented, highlighting the recurring countertransference image of an oriental carpet that persistently appeared in the therapist’s mind. This image is explored and amplified internally by the therapist, and the information derived form this process guides her interventions. The client is thus aided in recovering disavowed affect. The sandtray also aids in the recovery of the client’s feelings;’ as she runs her hands through the sand and weeps, old feelings surface for exploration within the potential space. Shame at being witnessed in this feeling state, as well as longing and anger toward the therapist, come into consciousness. The “oriental carpet” is explored as a metaphor for the in-between area of the potential space or the CO-transference In the further elaboration of a previous Journal of Sandplay Therapy article (“The Therapist’s Use of self in Sandplay: Participation Mystique and Projective Identification,” Linda Cunningham, 1997, Volume VI, 2), projective identification and participation mystique are explored as interwoven concepts suggesting the shared experience of image and feeling within the therapeutic relationship-a shared experience which may hold both the pathological and the numinous.