By Diana Jennings, MS, LLP

When you picture going to therapy, most people imagine “talk therapy”, sitting or lying on a couch, talking to a therapist who is seated across the room from them.  But imagine you enter your therapist’s office one day and they say, “Today we’re going to play in the sand!”  You sit on the floor and the therapist places a large plastic bin full of sand in front of you.  They invite you to place your hands in the sand, scooping up handfuls and letting the grains slowly escape through your fingers.  Then, you are presented with a variety of “miniatures”; small toys and figurines, animals, people, wizards, dragons, farm animals, fences, trees, houses, cars, airplanes, containers, stones, and jewels.  These objects are used to create a “world” in the sand.  This is Sand Tray Therapy.

Sand Tray Therapy is a therapeutic, evidence-based technique that can be used with children, adolescents and adults.  It is commonly used with those dealing with anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral issues and Autism.  It is especially effective with individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse.  Sand Tray Therapy is used in building skills such as problem solving, conflict resolution, anger management, self-esteem, resiliency and social skills.

With those who are limited in their verbal abilities or struggling with emotional expression, Sand Tray Therapy is a very useful therapeutic tool as it does not rely on the client to talk and find words to express themselves.  Instead, it utilizes the sand and the miniatures to “do the talking”, assisting the client to use this non-verbal modem to identify origins of their negative self-concepts, reveal problematic relationships and empower them to make changes in their experiences.  Sand Tray Therapy allows the client to dig deeper into their conscious and subconscious, all within the safe, protected, and contained space provided by the sand and the therapist.

Sand Tray Therapy is one of the many therapeutic play therapy techniques.  Other play therapies include puppet play, dramatic play, utilizing board and card game, and more.  Sand Tray incorporates elements of Art Therapy as well, which often utilizes drawing, painting, clay, and collages.


Diana Jennings is the Clinical Director for Perspectives Counseling Centers, as well as for Oakland Psychological Clinic and Heron Ridge Associates. She specializes in Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar and Eating Disorders.   Diana works with children, adolescents and adults utilizing CBT techniques, mindfulness, art therapy, play therapy and, of course, Sand Tray Therapy.

Our self-pay rates will soon be updated. Please contact our staff for more information.

On April 23rd, our current electronic health system will transition to a new and advanced system to better serve you: Athena. Prior to the transition date, you will be sent a registration link to create a new patient account in Athena. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your therapist, or call our office to speak to a staff member.