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What is Sandplay?

Sandplay is a powerful form of psychotherapy, which is based on the work of Swiss Child Therapist, Dora Kalff and also draws on the psychology of Carl Jung.  Sandplay Therapy is effective with clients of all ages and, when practiced with a trained therapist, works with the unconscious in a way that is safe and contained.

Sandplay therapy is based upon the idea that “play is the child's natural medium of self expression. It is an opportunity which is given to the child to 'play out' [their] feelings and problems, just as in certain types of adult therapy an individual 'talks' out [their] difficulties" (Axline 1969. p. 9).


When Sandplay is useful

Sandplay may be a useful way of supporting children and young people who are not able to explain in words how they are feeling or what is troubling them. Sessions offer a safe space to process and explore thoughts and emotions affecting them. The aims are that, following an opportunity to process what is bothering them at either a conscious or unconscious level, they will gain an understanding of their true self and develop inner resilience.  


How we monitor and evaluate progress 

We measure the effectiveness of Sandplay therapy using a combination of student questionnaire, parent / carer reports and teacher feedback via ‘Target Monitoring & Evaluation’ (TME) and/or ‘Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires’ (SDQs) – or the school’s usual monitoring processes.

To begin with, teaching staff will be asked to complete a Target Monitoring and Evaluation (TME) form and/or Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire (SDQ). The same process will be carried out at the end of the therapeutic work. 

Additionally, before therapy begins, parent/carers will be offered an opportunity to meet or talk with the educational psychologist, at which time there will be the opportunity to ask questions. At the end of therapy, parents/carers will be contacted again for their views. Student views are also collected at the end of the therapeutic process.

The pre-therapy and post-therapy SDQ and/or TME scores will be compared and the results will be included in the 'Summary of Therapeutic Work' report, along with parent and student views.


What sessions look like 

Each session lasts approximately 30—45 minutes, plus 15 minutes for tidying and writing notes. The average block of Sandplay therapy for CYP is 8 - 10 sessions. Children with complex needs typically require more than 10 sessions.

The Sandplay therapist will normally carry out the Sandplay sessions at the venue where the CYP attends school. The room designated for Sandplay therapy provides a ‘free and protected space’ for the child or young person, away from any interruptions.

Using an assortment of miniature figures or objects, and a tray containing sand, clients work, or create a picture in the sand, which is a representation of the deeper inner world of the client. During Sandplay children and young people (CYP) are invited to choose items that appeal to them and place them in the sand to create a picture or a story. They can talk about what they have created or not depending upon how they feel.

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