Friday, August 12, 2016

A Certificate in Sand Therapy

A Certificate in Sand Therapy
College Park Youth and Family Services Announcement

Contact for registration:

This Sand Therapy program has two levels and includes three components:
1)      Workshops (ce included)    Four, 6-hour workshops for each Level I and Level 2
2)      Case consultations    Eight 2-hour case consultations  for each Level I and Level 2
3)      Practicum experience: Sand therapy practicum hours with clients are completed within participant’s personal practice. Previous hours using sand with clients applies to the total hours.

Sand Therapy Certificates Levels:
LEVEL I:   CLINICAL SAND THERAPY CERTIFICATE: The Foundation of Sand: Theory, Ethics, and Skill Development

Level  II:  ADVANCED SAND THERAPY CERTIFICATE:  Effective Implementation: Engaging, Understanding and Responding to Clients


Workshop Topics
1.       Developing Competency: Theory, Ethics, and the Role of the Therapist in Sand   Therapy
2.       Respectful Understanding of Symbols in Sand: Amplification and Active Imagination
3.       Resonating with Compassion in Sand: Trauma, Grief, and Loss
4.       Mindfully Responding: Integrating Rogerian Client-Centered and Jungian Approaches


Workshop Topics
1.       Enriching Meaning in Sand Scenes: Erickson’s Therapeutic Metaphors and Narrative Sand Therapy
2.       Recovering a Cohesive Sense of Self Across the Lifespan: A Developmental View
3.       Reclaiming Identity: Culture, Ethnicity, and Gender in Sand Scenes
4.       Honoring the Many Parts: Family Systems in the Sand

Description/  Overview
Competency with sand therapy, Sandtray and Sandplay, is based on clinician insights into the process and meaning of symbols and the skills to respond to client sand scenes. This certificate program develops competency for using sand in three core areas: 1) understanding theories for an integrated, holistic practice, 2) Development of ethics, mindfulness, and integrity in the use of sand, and 3) Advancement of skills training through a practicum of individualized feedback through case consultations. Competency with symbols in sand requires an experiential approach with time for participant immersion in their own process; and, guidance to deepen personal experience and expertise. These certificate programs increases the therapist’s capacity to attend to developmental and mind-body connections in sand scenes, and effectively use metaphors and narrative techniques to enhance responses to clients.


Sand therapy is a strengths-based approach wherein the client uses figurines and metaphors to tell their story. Sand therapy offers clients a non-verbal process to share their experience – a deepening, internal exploration over time, beyond the restrictions of an outward technique. Clinician competency provides the safety and empowering witness to hear stories too painful to explain directly in words.  This non-verbal process is especially important for clients impacted by grief and trauma.

During the process, clients, no matter their age, through metaphor and images in the sand, share their understanding of how they grasp their experience. This process allows client stories to unfold, at their pace, and at the level of depth with which they can cope, and to transform and heal. This certificate program prepares the clinician to more fully understand, witness, and respond to clients and their sand scenes. It is specifically designed to provide participants a solid grounding in theory and the ethical use of sand and guide to effective implementation of the process. To maintain integrity of the training an emphasis is on a safe enriching experience for the clinician immersed in the use of metaphors and sand scenes with individualized guidance and feedback and support participant competency using sand therapy. To support this experience the workshop attendees are limited to 12 and practicum case consultation participants are limited to 6.

Clinical Sand Therapy Certificate
Cost: $1,000 --- $600 four 6 hour Level 1 workshops ($150 each) and $400 for four 2-hour consultations ($100 each)

Advanced Clinical Sand Therapy Certificate
Cost: $1,000 --- $600 four 6 hour Level II workshops ($150 each) and $400 four 2 hour consultations ($100 each)

Meeting Days and Time
Level 1 Workshops (4) begin fall 2016, Wednesdays: October 5, November 2, December, 7, January 4. There will be some flexibility with holiday season. 
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 
College Park Youth and Family Services, 4912 Nantucket Road College Park, MD 20740
Some sessions will be at The Center for Culture and Sandplay Brandywine Studio, 13507 Brandywine Rd., Brandywine, MD  20613

Advanced Small Group Consultations
Level 1 Advanced Small Group Consultations (8) begin third Wednesday of the month
Time: 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Location: College Park Youth and Family Services 4912 Nantucket Road College Park, MD 2074
Advanced Small Group Consultations
Participants will explore their implementation of sand therapy through case consultation within a small group cohort. An essential feature of the consults is individualized feedback to enhance participant understanding of and responses to client sand scenes. Strategies, support, validation, and suggestions to increase insights into the process anchor these small group consults.

Dr. Preston-Dillon is founder and director of the Center for Culture and Sandplay. Her life’s work has been a full commitment to clinical work with sand therapy as a projective process – beginning in the early 1980s with research on cross-cultural aspects of Sandplay. Her training under Jungian-based Sandplay founder Dora Kalff grounds her sand therapy perspective.
She has presented at over 40 national and international conferences on topics related to sandplay/ sandtray including theory, ethical practice, and clinical best practices. Serving local agencies her work supports clinician immersion to deepen clinician’s insights and extend their capacity to resonate with client representations. On the graduate counseling faculty at the George Washington and Johns Hopkins Universities, and the Art Therapy program at GWU, a new approach to work with sand emerged from her cross-cultural field work - Narrative Sand Therapy. She provides training, retreats, and private consults to clinicians, educators, and those in the creative arts.

For a printable copy, download from Google Drive

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Clinician's Journey: A Series on Sand Therapy

A Series on Sand Therapy  . . .  The Clinician’s Journey

What should we consider regarding ethical use of sand, principles and best practice guidance?
What is the role of the clinician using sand and symbols with clients?
What clinician preparation; professional-theoretical preferences, attitudes, and perceptual ability are essential for clinician use of sand?
What are the key distinctions in theory and practice among sand therapies?

These are a few of the questions I will address in a series of mini briefs on clinical use of sand and symbols in the Maryland/ DC Play Therapy Newsletter. These are critical questions, especially given the easy access to sand trays and objects. To understand an ethical context we have to unpack presuppositions that come with licensure across the mental health disciplines, the presumed authority and power that comes with various career positions, assumptions embedded in certifications, and careful discernment regarding training-marketing-CE features. We should consider purpose, power, and potential for both healing and devastation.

Problems with this remarkable projective process, sand therapy and its various approaches include where sand is situated within institutions and the authority related to its use, how we match theory with practice (this is a source of considerable client damage), clinician competency and preparation, and dilution of content in training/CEs. Too often we assume too much, rushing to use a projective technique, using sand as a promotional feature, dismissing potential problems, and remain unaware of the inappropriate, damaging use of sand. These are a few of the serious distortions in knowledge, skills, and practice that become problematic for clients, clinicians, sand specialists, and the profession.

There is a tremendous need for non-verbal clinical approaches such as sand that are healing for trauma, vital for non-verbal clients, and nourishing for clients with complex developmental issues. There is a need for the powerful healing, repairing capacity of sand therapy. However, if we do not slow down and examine this precious resource, what clinicians should be doing and should not be doing, we will continue to foster damaging unethical uses.

Reflecting on over thirty five years studying sand therapies and decades consulting with clinicians who use sand I see the exceptional compassion and healing qualities therapists bring to clients – the remarkable healing power of sand and symbol when the therapist is prepared – skilled in the use of interventions that follow the lead of the client, clinicians who invest time to hone their perceptual ability with a keen self-awareness. Unfortunately, I also hear the stories of children and adults who had the painful, re-wounding experience of sand – the therapist had his or her own agenda, the therapist tried to make the scene into something it was not, the therapist was more interested in the tray than the client, the therapist’s curiosity took precedence, the therapist did not know what to do with the scene and forced an issue. These stories reflect damage resulting from inappropriate use of sand and symbols. Hope rests on the integrity of all of us, graduate student to seasoned clinicians, to respect the power and preparation for using sand.

It is our responsibility to examine and set straight the misinformation and distortions resulting from diluted training and preparation, uninformed directives from management or supervision, implied readiness from internship/course instructors, and our own lack of self-awareness – presumed competencies. And there is also the waste of time with exasperating professional competition. Unfortunately we could inadvertently perpetuate these problems, generate misunderstanding, disregard the importance of clinician insights, blindly follow power or status, opt for convenience, and dismiss the vulnerabilities entailed in engagement with such depth when we choose to not question, when we avoid a reasoned unpacking. Better that we examine our rational, our reasons and practices – in training, clinical work, graduate education, and licensure.

I hope to strike a balance in this mini-series between offering tips for competent use of sand and still unpack the presuppositions, distortions, and alienating aspects of the use of sand. My goal is discernment. I hope to distinguish marketing objectives (toys, training) and implied permissions embedded in license, from essential attitudes-skills-insight – to offer light for attunement to the healing process.

©Dee Preston-Dillon, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
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Symbols in the Sand - June 10-12, 2016

Dr. Preston-Dillon will be presenting Symbols in the Sand: An Interactive Exploration for Play Therapists and Others at the 4th annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute, June 10-12 in Arlington VA. For details and registration, see or

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Friday, March 01, 2013

Upcoming Presentations, Retreats, and Training

March 6 – 10
West Virginia Clinician Retreat - Clinician Self-Care: Competency Grounded in Permission, Protection and Empowerment

April 12 – 14  
Alexandria, VA  First Annual Play Therapy Training Institute -- Nurturing the Clinician: Re-Energizing through Sand, Symbols, and Narrative

May 2 - 3  
Baltimore, MD  Advanced Psychotherapy Institute – Trauma and Countertransference: Through the Lens of Sand Therapy

Email sandplayvoices[at] for more info.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Site and the rest of the Winter Schedule

Sandplay Voices is now a branch of Dr. Preston-Dillon's Creative Clinician site.

There you'll find information about Dr. Dee's work and training philosophy, as well as educational resources. This blog will stay open and in use so please sign up to receive email updates when we post.

Go HERE to see the January 2013 newsletter.

There is also a link to the right where you can subscribe to our free newsletter which comes out once a month. It will include the newest happenings, special events, and training opportunities.

Please note that our February 24th training listed in the schedule earlier has been cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. Following are our available workshops to be held in Brandywine, Maryland, with 6 or fewer attendees. Sign up while there is still space by emailing us at [dee at]

Narratives in the Sand: The Power of Metaphors
6 hrs.
$ 180. FEB. 9   Saturday 10 am – 4 pm

Advanced Narrative Sand Therapy
6 hrs.
$ 180.
MARCH 2 Saturday 10 am – 4 pm

Advanced Sand Therapy
12 hrs. $ 340.
MARCH 17 & 18 Sunday & Monday 10 am – 4 pm

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winter Schedule 2012-13

Individual consultations and private groups are arranged separately from the Scheduled Training below.

    All training is kept to 6 or fewer participants
Ethics in Sand Therapy: Supervision and Clinical Practice  3 hrs.  $90.
NOV. 17 Saturday  1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Grief and Loss
: The Clinician’s Journey  6 hrs.  $ 180.
NOV. 26  Monday  9:30 am – 3:00 pm

Transformation: Spiritual Journeys in the Sand  6 hrs.  $ 180.
JAN. 5  Saturday  10:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Ethics in Sand Therapy: Supervision and Clinical Practice  3 hrs.  $90.
JAN. 13 Sunday  1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Narratives in the Sand: The Power of Metaphors  6 hrs.  $ 180.
FEB. 9  Saturday  10:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Jungian Sandplay Therapy  6 hrs.  $ 180.
FEB. 24  Sunday  10:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Advanced Narrative Sand Therapy   6 hrs.  $ 180.
MARCH 2  Saturday  10:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Advanced Sand Therapy  12 hrs.  $ 340.
MARCH 17 & 18  Sunday & Monday  10:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Email sandplayvoices at for registration and information.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Essentials of Sand Therapy at Allegany College MD

 Essentials of Sand Therapy: Principles and Practice
Dee Preston Dillon, PhD 

Allegany College of Maryland
Monday, October 8

Contact: Christa A. Snyder, Human Services Coordinator
casnyder [at]  301-784-5530

Six Hour Training

Course Description and Objectives

itnessing, Containment, Reflection and Responding, Amplification and Facilitation are core components for effective sand therapy – both sandplay and sand tray. This workshop presents the basic theoretical foundation for sand therapy, the difference between Jungian Sandplay and sand tray therapy, and  demonstrates the skill sets for each of these four areas.

Our goal
is safe and competent sand therapy no matter the clinician’s theoretical orientation. This training presents both theory and experiential practice.
Through a graduated
process this training will help participants

* Conceptualize ways for using sand with diverse  populations.* Explore ways to understand and respond to sand scenes especially with a mindful presence.

Understand the role of the clinician to witness and contain activity in the sand.

Gain initial skills for creating a safe and protected space for client use of sand.

Appreciate the rigor, depth, skills, and process that ground sand therapy and clinician efficacy.

Upon completion of this workshop participants will:

*  Describe the function of symbols to bridge intrapsychic  phenomena with a client’s life world, and externalize trauma and developmental injunctions.

*  Point out how sand is a projective process wherein the  role of the clinician and the client differ from other play therapy approaches.

Describe the ethics for professional training, the role of the clinician, and the four grounding components for clinical use of sand: Witnessing, Containment, Reflection and Responding, Amplification and Facilitation.

-- Please register with Christa (contact info above) by 26 September to insure your space!