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They can just do it and experience it.

A Review of: "Sandplay in Three Voices: Images, Relationships, the Numinous. (2005)"

Can I trust you— To handle this? That is not the issue with the sand. I can love and hate you without being afraid of my feelings, because it is happening in the sand. I wanted to come back to the discussion we had about different levels. When training, how do you train to hold the sandplay at this level of depth? I found that if trainees have had an experience of an archetypal level of reality they can hold it at some depth. If they are not aware of an archetypal level they are going to keep things on a personal level.

Of the collective unconscious. We talked mother-child and lovers. I also think that there is Sibling rivalry?

Not just sibling rivalry. There is a sibling quality of relationship, like Kohut defines, in terms of twinship [Kohut, ]. There is the father-child relationship, too. There is a difference between the therapist relating to the client in a mother-child way and a fatherchild way. The father-child way of relating is an achievement level of relating. As the client comes from the deep analytic work to a new level of wanting to achieve, more of a father-child relationship may be called for.

The sand is the deep, organic place of creation. That is where the old ego dies and then something new is created. A birthing takes place. So we could say that the mother-child relationship is there in the creation, and the holding and nurturing of that creation. A maternal function that the father fills. This has nothing to do with gender.

Sandplay - Dora Kalff

It is connected to the mother archetype. There is a relationship to the containing maternal that every human being needs. However, a male or female therapist can carry this maternal function. However, a woman is biologically set up for creation. So does a woman sandplay therapist instinctively bring that into the process?

Who you are does enter the sandtray, in ways we are not even aware of. Whatever it is, it is there! What is important is that all of these relationships can be seen and experienced in the sand. Like when they pick some figure that has deep meaning for you, or that you are deeply connected with, letting you know how deeply connected they are to you through the figure they have chosen.

The numinous. Yeah, but it is the numinous, in relationship to each other. This is an experience for both the therapist and the sandplayer of meeting at the level of the Self. Chapter 2 Therapist Maria Ellen Chiaia There is much for psychotherapy to learn from the relationship between the therapist and the client in sandplay therapy.

This relationship to the depths of our beings and the ability to hold open the space for the unconscious to express itself in order for the deepest layers of the psyche to emerge is the ground of sandplay therapy. The sandplayer in the presence of the therapist makes a communication with sand, water and miniatures, which have coherence, and continuity with the wholeness of the human being creating the sand picture. This creation may then resonate with the therapist, making a relationship to the therapist.

The communication and connection are held in the relationship to and with the therapist. And the relationship of the therapist to their own experience of these depths is the essence of the sandplay. Therapists must first make a connection to the many levels and hold open a large enough space so that clients can connect to their own deeper layers as well.

In sandplay we create a space for the archetypal experience to come through into the human realm through sand, water and miniatures and through the relationship to the therapist. However, this relationship to the therapist is a complex one.

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The sandplayer and the therapist create a field of experience, which includes the personal, cultural, and collective levels of the conscious and unconscious of both the therapist and the client. The field of experience is particular to the therapist and client, and all they bring into the room.

Other writers have referred to this field phenomenon Schwartz-Salant, b; Stein, b; Jacoby, Having experienced a sandplay process, the therapist has tempered or forged a connection to the deepest level of the psyche, to the archetype of the Self, the central organizing principle of wholeness. This lived connection enters the field of relationship. Having made a relationship to this territory, when the client enters these realms and reaches for the Buddha or the crystal ball to go into the center of the tray, the therapist recognizes the numinosity of the moment because the therapist has seen and experienced the numinous Self.

In sandplay it is the task of the therapist to create a container for the clients so that the healing movement of the psyche may unfold. Therapists are more than witnesses; they are actively receptive and participating observers. We, the therapists, are called upon to enter into this relationship with an enormous capacity for empathy, patience, trust, and an inner knowing of the power and depth of the unconscious in both its positive and its negative forms.

Chiaia ; Chapter 18 of the present volume describes a meeting at the level of the Self, where the Self archetype becomes constellated between the therapist and client. The client asked the therapist to confirm this experience by having the therapist sign the drawing, which was a Self drawing that the client had created. The client was referring to the experience of the field where the unconscious of the client and the therapist met. Not knowledge, not understanding, not the conscious mind, but the unconscious of both client and therapist working in resonance created this drawing.


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Both client and therapist were listening to the heartbeat of the psyche. Purposeful imaging creates deep empathic resonances within the therapist Bradway, Sensations arise within the body of the therapist through all of the five senses, plus intuition, the sixth sense. The sand image takes form within the transindividual field in a relational matrix, which is permeated by the nonverbal experience of the healing potential within the psyche.

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The role of sandplay therapists is to again hold open the possibility for all aspects and qualities of matter and spirit to emerge: darkness and light, trauma and distress, the divine and ineffable in their many forms and combinations. Sandplay therapists have experienced these expressions in their own sandplay journey and know the power and magic of a shared and contained sandplay process. Sandplay makes the space for the creation of the experience of the Self.


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The mystery of the Self appears in all of its forms and over time it becomes the guiding archetype. The therapist contains the sandplayer within a meaningful personal relationship and carries the possibility of the transcendent.


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When there is the appearance of the image of the Self, it occurs within the interpersonal matrix so there is a meeting at the level of the Self. In sandplay we have the creation of the sand picture within this place of meeting between the sandplayer and the therapist. Initiation involves rites, which are ordinary acts imbued with divine knowledge or wisdom.

Initiatory acts receive and transmit spiritual values and the initiate undergoes rituals that help the individual relate to the social group and the collective unconscious while maintaining their individual identity. Initiation as described by Henderson allows for the transition from childhood to adulthood and to the eventual experience of the individuation process described by Jung So the magical act of playing with sand, water, and miniatures is first and foremost a therapeutic modality that heals, but it also has the potential for becoming an initiatory experience of individuation for the sandplayer.

This magical act occurs in a nonverbal, non-interpretive space provided by the therapist.

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Whether we liken this to the infant child experience of the primal Self or the adult experience of the ultimate Self Henderson, , we hold open the possibility for the psychological state of wholeness to emerge and guide. What is meant here by transformation is consciousness of processes that alter Self experience. Sandplay is a process that can alter Self experiences. Consciousness can come at that moment of play or it can come later in dreams, analysis or in the review of the sand images.

From the ground of being of the therapist and the client who meet in the transindividual field, the process of creation of the sandtrays begins. From this ground of being through the individual aesthetic of the sandplayer, many archetypal themes that relate to healing and transformation emerge. There are never two sandtrays that are alike, as the process of growth and individuation is an individual and yet universal experience. Individuation, according to Jung, unites the person to their own unconscious depths both the personal and collective aspects , as well as connecting the person to interpersonal, social, and cultural forces.

The sandplayer in the act of creation through the connection to the therapist learns to remain open to the process of becoming, which is the work of individuation. Life and development as a process of becoming through the relationship between therapist and client is the focus of sandplay therapy. One way is through depth psychotherapy. Ever since there has been a therapy of the psyche, that is, psychotherapy, there has been the question of problem of the role of the therapist. How much authority does the therapist assume? In the early days of psychotherapy, hypnotism and catharsis were at opposite ends of the authority role of the therapist.

In catharsis, on the other hand, the client talked and the therapist listened. It was recognized that this was helpful. I recall a time later, with the availability of more sophisticated instruments, that a person could play a recording that fed back the kind of remarks required to keep the person continuing in their solo quest for help. It was soon realized, however, that a live therapist was actually desirable in any kind of therapy. When they were falling in love with him, or hating him, it was not just the personal relationship with him but the transference onto him of 20 BRADWAY feelings toward previous significant others in their lives.

As I understand it, Freud wished to maintain a kind of blank page as far as his own personality was concerned. He sat behind his patients so they could not see him or his expressions and could image him in their own way I understand that Jung in the early days used some hypnotism with his patients and then abandoned the authoritative stance that hypnotism required and attempted to stay out of the picture as much as possible.

A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought

I am told he asked patients to write letters to him that they keep to themselves without showing them to him. This was to help minimize the strength of a live relationship between them. In current Jungian analysis there has been a development in which the feelings of the patient toward the therapist, and of the therapist toward the patient, are used extensively in the healing and individuation process. Analysis of the transference and countertransference plays a prominent role in much current Jungian analysis.

In using Tarot cards or the I Ching, therapist and client work together in analyzing or understanding the ritualized material. This tends to result in less resistance and less dependence on the therapist than when the therapist takes a more authoritative stance. But this is a tricky area which is responsible for many of the treacherous and wounding involvements between therapist and client.

It has been my experience that there are fewer dangerous transference failures in therapy with sandplay than in verbal analysis.