SAND PLAY THERAPY – AN INTERVIEW WITH JANA VYSOUDILOVA
Do you remember the time when you were a child and played with the sand? I loved it… I think I can even say I still love it. Maybe that’s why I felt so excited when I found out that playing the sand is one of the therapeutic methods! And it is not only about having fun or becoming relaxed. Sand therapy is a very deep symbolic work based on Jungian psychology. Today I have the honor to introduce Jana Vysoudilová to you, a therapist with a broad experience who agreed to presents sand play therapy to us.
WHAT IS SAND PLAY THERAPY?
Sand play therapy is a Jungian therapeutic method working with symbols in a sand tray. The symbols represent the objects that we are surrounded by in our reality, for example, people, animals, trees. The number of symbols is not limited or prescribed, it depends on the process of a client, his deep impulses.
A founder of sand play is Dora Kalff, a Jungian therapist. She based this method on the Depth Psychology of C.G. Jung and the “World Technique” originated by Margaret Lowenfeld. Lowenfeld was an innovative pediatrician and a founder of one of the first psychological clinics for children in England. She created the tools that Sandplay Therapy adapted – the tray filled with sand and miniatures that represent inner psychological contents. Firstly it was used to work with children in her clinics, but later it was proved to be valuable also for the adult clients.
HOW DOES A SAND PLAY THERAPY WORK?
During sand play therapy a client creates an image in the sand that activates deep unconscious levels of the psyche. It can be used in a diagnostic or therapeutic way. The sand play result makes the client aware of their unconscious patterns, and the process of creation is a way to restore a new better state of being. The great advantage of this method is that there is no space for resistance in a client because the form of this therapy is just playing!
HOW DOES A SAND PLAY THERAPY SESSION LOOK LIKE?
At the beginning of the session, a therapist makes a short interview with a client about their situation. It helps to find the best way of how to make a session in the sand the most helpful. There are two ways. The first – with the direct purpose of the session that means we can base the session on questions that can help the client explore the problems they verbalize. Or the second – when there is no specific goal. Then the content shows up during the work. Most often it is connected with the client’s life situations or issues they solve in therapy.
Sometimes there is a need to use some other symbolic work (without the sand) to support the client. For example, we can draw connections between symbols.
The next part is the introduction of the client to the sand play method. The main part of the session is about choosing symbols and putting them into the sand. It can be a very emotional process. That’s why the therapist supports the client by their full of empathy presence and proper questions if needed. When the picture in the sand is done, there is the time for a discussion. The therapist helps the client to interpret the symbols and their meaning in the whole image.
FOR WHO COULD SAND PLAY THERAPY BE HELPFUL?
Sand play therapy can be helpful for people of all ages, not only children – everybody can play this way! But of course, it is very effective in children’s therapy, and what’s interesting – the session can be provided even for very young children – even just two years old ones! Quite often this approach is used to help children learn better at school.
But let’s focus on adults for who sand play therapy can be very helpful. It is not possible to point out all the situations when this therapy could be recommended. In general, we can try this method every time we would like to have a clearer understanding of our life situation, find some solutions to the problems we struggle with. It is also an integrative tool after the work on deep mind-expanding techniques, like for example holotropic breathwork or psychedelic therapy.
It is always a good idea to check what our subconscious mind thinks!
The beauty of this playful approach is that it diminishes the amount of resistance in people in comparison to other techniques.
HOW TO FIND A THERAPIST OF SAND PLAY APPROACH?
Most of the Jungian trained psychologists can provide this work. There are also many therapists trained specifically in this method. Ask friends who are in therapy for recommendations or just check the Internet.
ABOUT JANA VYSOUDILOVA
Jana Vysoudilová works as a music and sand play therapist. As a facilitator of holotropic breathing she often works with Stanislav Grof. She is a teacher of yoga. She devotes to support people in various types of life crisis and spiritual emergencies. She also works often with children and mentally disabled people. She learns bodywork more deeply in a neuroenergetic therapy training.
Jana is available as a private therapist or a member of the therapeutic team of Holos Center in Opava which brings complex therapeutic care for people in alternative ways to traditional psychiatry.
She studied classical guitar and fine arts. She often exhibits her paintings of visionary art.