Working in the World of Symbols

Working in the World of Symbols 2017-10-10T13:30:57+00:00
Kalff Sandplay Room

Dora Kalff’s miniatures shelves

When we go through the door of a sandplay therapy room, we enter a symbolic world. The raw materials of sand and water, the plethora of miniatures from the real and imaginary worlds, all carry symbolic meaning. They have the potential to touch our psyches and offer healing at a deep unconscious level.

Through the images on our shelves, a client has a unique opportunity to relate with his own psychic material that might include anything from a simple neurotic complex, to an experienced trauma, to a numinous manifestation of the Self, and more. The focus is not on understanding the precise meaning of a chosen symbol, but rather on the process as a whole.

One of the primary reasons that the sandplay process is so potent is because the client is given an opportunity to actively engage with the symbols of transformation that Jung wrote an entire volume about. It is a testament to the power of the symbol that it is difficult, if not impossible to put a figure in the sand unless it is “right.” A client may select the image from the shelf, but it never quite makes it into the tray unless it carries the required symbolic meaning.

The purpose of the symbolic process is to help the psyche mature and heal, to move the client through the individuation process in order to confront the necessary conflicts, connect with the deepest layers of the Self, and return to life transformed by this hero’s journey.

It is not a journey for everyone, nor for the faint of heart. But sandplay therapy offers a container for the voyage like no other—a solid container where one can find their way through the dark night of the soul and back again, changed, restored, healed.

Patricia Dunn-Fierstein

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