Basic Set Up for Sandplay Therapy

Adelina W.K. Wong

The boxes can be made to order by any furniture manufacturing company. Waterproof Sky blue paint is used for the bottom and sides. The brand from Camel Synthetic Enamel ( CM Series No. CM135) appears to be a good choice. Sometimes it makes sense to use smaller trays with young children. If a lot of water is used, a plastic container (Fig. 2),67cm x 55cm x 18cm, works very well.

DIY project: The transparent plastic container with lid can be found in IKEA. One can paint it with Enamel CM135. The outside of the box can be covered with plastic finishing Easy-Fix with wood line design.

The Sand tray:
According to the tradition of Dora Kalff, the sandtray is a rectangular wooden box, size 28 1/2" x 19 1/2" x 3" or 57 x 72 x 7 cm (Fig.1), painted blue at the bottom and sides. It is optimal to have two sand trays available in the office, one with slightly damp sand, and the other remains dry at all times. The size is based on what one can see without turning one's head. The sandtray fills up one's field of vision which in turn becomes one's inner world reflected in the sand.

The Sand:
For hygienic purpose, it is advisable to use treated fine sand commonly utilized in kindergartens. Please refer to Q & A section for places to buy sand in Hong Kong.

To mark out a space in your setting to put your figurines is an essential consideration, for it determines the size of your collection.

The Figurines:
To start collecting figurines is a kind of inner journey for every sandplay therapist. Initially, you may want to include objects that you can relate to in a range as wide as possible. You open yourself up to allow objects to be chosen on your shelves. This is the same process we ask our clients to do. You may be surprised at the kind of figurines that turn up in your collection. You may also pick up objects that are meaningful to you. They evoke special feelings and memories in you. Your connection with the figurines will affect how the clients use the objects. When you make new discovery of yourself, you may add new objects that symbolize your growth to the collection. As your knowledge of sandplay therapy deepens, you may re-organize your collection. Gradually, the collection becomes part of you. It reflects the unique expressiveness and the personality of the collector.

There is no set parameter for the objects to be collected. They practically include all objects that exist in the Universe. The following list, which is not comprehensive, suggests the common categories that you may want to start with. Use your imagination and experience to expand the list.

1. Creatures of the Land:
  1. People: Ordinary family members including elderly grandparent, father, mother, adolescent, children, babies, historical people, space man, diver, wedding couple, the handicapped, the wounded, the graduate, the rescuer, the police, soldiers, knights, cowboys and Indians…
  2. Animals:
    Wild: lion, tiger, panther, zebra, bear, rhino, elephant….
    Forest: deer, rabbit, coyote, wild boar, skunk…
    Domesticated: cat, dog, mouse…
    Prehistoric: dinosaur, mammoth…
    Farm: milk cow, goat, chicken, sheep, horse, pig…
  3. Reptiles and amphibious creatures: frog, crocodile, snake, lizard, turtle…
  4. Insects: butterfly, spider, ant, caterpillar, cockroach, centipede, honey bee…

2. Creatures of the Sea: fish, shark, dolphin, octopus, whale, sea turtle, coral, sea horse, urchin, crab…

3. Creatures of the Sky: duck (air, land, water), owl, lovebirds, swan, bird in flight, eagle, birds with nest, peacock, bird with eggs, phoenix…

4. Nature:
  1. Trees including flowering tree, fruit tree, evergreen pine, bare tree, dead tree, flowers, seaweed, cactus, all kinds of greens, lichen…
  2. Rocks: all kinds of geophytes, crystal, amethyst, fossils
  3. Sea shells
  4. Landscape of the earth: mountains, caves, volcanoes, river, lake, pond…

5. Structure:
  1. Buildings: castle, house, teepee, igloo, temple, church, cathedral, fire station, police station, gas station, amusing park, farm, barn house, hospital…
  2. Barriers: screens, fences, road signs, blocks, bridges…

6. Transportation:
  1. Land: bicycle, cars, police car, emergency and rescue vehicles, trucks, train, bus…
  2. Air: airplane, air-balloon…
  3. Sea: raft. boat, ship, row boat, sailing boat…

7. Spiritual: Gods and goddesses, figurines from different religions, mandala…

8. Fantasy figures: Witches and wizards, princes and princesses, kings and queens, magicians, fairytale and cartoon animated figures, ET, fairies, Gnome…

9. Mythical figures: Centaurs, mermaids, Minotaur, medusa, flying dragon, unicorns, pagesus, griffon, three headed dog…

10. Monster: Ghost like creatures and those that represent shadow materials

11. The Chinese five primal elements of the universe: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth in actuality as well as symbolically: -
Metal: Copper wire; coin; ring; jewelry; Electronic goods; golden chalice…
Wood: Forest; tree; wooden furniture…
Water: distill water in the container, fountain, river, falls, ice…
Fire: fireplaces, stoves, red fabric, candles, bonfire, fire fighters, sun…
Earth: caves, bulldozers, miniature shovels, miners, clay jar; porcelain; mountain…

12. Death: Graveyard, skeleton, skulls, coffin, RIP sign, mummy, dying tree…

13. Clown: All kinds of symbol for the trickster…

14. Miscellaneous: Food, Lamp post, letters, post box, telephone, telephone booth, marbles, tea set, jewels, Band-Aids, stars, snowflakes, cloth, bones, Bible, Koran, Tai chi sign, evil eyes, different masks…

Other helpful equipments for creative process:
1. Soft wax, clay, play dough of different color that allow clients to make their own figures creatively,
2. Glue, scotch tape, blue tack for putting objects together,
3. Plastic wrap to prevent water from vanishing into the sand,

A few practical tips for the set-up:
1. To minimize damage for the wooden tray, make sure the interlining edges are sealed tightly with Professional Silicone Sealant to prevent water from seeping into the edges of the wooden boards in future usage. The sealant for aquarium industry is the best.

2. Try to have some order in your shelves. Categorize your collection and put them together accordingly. Figurines that end up in inappropriate or scary places will unsettle both children and adults.

3. Shelves can be covered by a curtain to avoid overwhelming certain clients or distracting others who are not engaged in the sandplay process. Food, Lamp post, letters, post box, telephone, telephone booth, marbles, tea set, jewels, Band-Aids, stars, snowflakes, cloth, bones, Bible, Koran, Tai chi sign, evil eyes, different masks…

Training Activities

Coming Training Activities

Survey on the development of sandplay therapy in Hong Kong

Annual General Meeting
Date: Mar. 16, 2014 (Sun.)
9:20am - 10:00am
Download the Membership Form

March Workshop
Sandplay with Young Children: Archetypal, Developmental and Transference Issues
Presenter: Dr. Liza Ravitz
Date: Mar. 16, 2014 (Sun.) 
10:00am - 5:30pm
Download the information in PDF

Supervision Groups
Presenter: Dr. Liza Ravitz
Date: Group A:  Mar. 15, 2014 (Sat.) 9:30am to 12:30pm
Group B:  Mar. 15, 2014 (Sat.) 2:00pm to 5:00pm
Download the information in Word


Previous Training Activities

April workshop
An Essential of Sandplay: Therapist as Witness An Alchemical Mix of Inner and Outer Space
Presenter: Dr. Liza Ravitz
Date: Apr 6,2013(Sat.)
9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and
April 7, 2013 (Sun.)
9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m

November 2012 workshop
by Dr. Alexander Esterhuyzen

Co-teaching with Dr. Amy Leung Wai Yin and
Ms. Adelina Wong Wei Kwan
Essential Jungian Knowledge Necessary for Sandplay Practice: a workshop in Jungian psychology and sandplay therapy
Date & time: Nov. 17 (Sat.) 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  
Venue: Room GH201, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom

November 2013 workshop
Symbols of Healing & signs of Hope
Sandplay Therapy for Children and Adolescents
Presenter: Judy Zappacosta
Date: Nov. 10 (Sun.) 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and 
Nov. 11 (Mon.) 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m
Venue: Room GH201, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom