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How do therapists discover a healing method that really works for them and inspires their own life's work? Unlike most books in the field of psychotherapy, which focus on the application of theory and practice to working with clients, this volume takes a step back, exploring through personal narrative the path of the therapist.

How and why did these therapists from all over the world stumble onto an unusual expressive modality called sandplay? Did they find it, or did it find them? And once found, what called them to experience firsthand and then to specialize in this unusual therapeutic method offering sand, water, and miniature figures and symbols for creative expression?

In a field where talk therapy has been the gold standard for more than a century, this unique volume of stories shares what compelled these therapists to commit to a modality emphasizing not words, but the power of image and image-making to facilitate healing.

Contemporary neuroscience research has drawn attention to the importance of expressive, nonverbal modalities. These methods can access body memories that that have not reached our verbal awareness. The incorporation of sandplay into a therapy process can facilitate neural integration of touch, sight, proprioception, motor systems, the autonomic nervous system, associative and memory systems activated by the miniatures, and then, through reflection on the completed tray, forebrain regions involved in higher level emotional self-regulation and integrated decision-making.

In the process of reading these stories, you will learn that sandplay is not simply a technique. It is based upon values derived from the Analytical Psychology of C. G. Jung and the Buddhist practice of its founder, Dora Kalff. In sandplay, the patient-therapist relationship is based upon integrity, respect, and safety. A patient in therapy is invited to make a spontaneous creation in a sand tray, with the option of adding water and miniatures, as well as natural and decorative objects. The therapist, who has extensive training, is most often a quiet witness of the process. Together, they observe, but do not interpret, the production in the tray. Sand trays are made as often or seldom as the patient chooses over the course of the therapy. In this milieu, solutions to the patient's dilemma emerge rather than being directed by the therapist.

If you are interested in the unconscious, creative expression, and healing from the depths, then you will want to read this book.



Dyane N. Sherwood, Ph.D. is a Jungian psychoanalyst (IAAP) and sandplay therapist (CST-T, ISST). During her 35 years of private practice she has witnessed the profound therapeutic impact of expressive methods, including sandplay. Dr. Sherwood is a graduate of Wellesley College, received her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a post-doctoral scholar and acting Assistant Professor in the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University. She conducted research in cellular neurophysiology during her graduate and postdoctoral years, publishing her work in the Journal of Experimental Biology (Cambridge), Brain Research, and the Journal of Neurophysiology. Dr. Sherwood retrained as a psychologist and later underwent analytic training at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, where she was certified in both adult and in child and adolescent analysis. Her interests include Native American Spirituality and shamanism, alchemy as a language of inner transformation, the art of Wassily Kandinsky, and the neurobiology of affective communication and change. She has taught and published in all these areas. She co-authored Transformation of the Psyche: The Symbolic Alchemy of the Splendor Solis (Routledge, 2003) with the late Joseph L. Henderson, who was an analysand of C. G. Jung and the only American contributor to Man and His Symbols.

She now lives in Oberlin, Ohio, where she has a private practice ( and has established the Analytical Psychology Press.


Betty C. Jackson, LSW, CST-T is a Teaching Member of the Sandplay Therapists of America and the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST). Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Sandplay Therapy, and she serves on the Board of Directors for the ISST. She teaches internationally and has established The Center for Jungian Sandplay in southeastern Pennsylvania in order to offer sandplay process, consultation, and training in the tradition of Dora Kalff.



Rut Boss-Baumann
Brian Beetje
LaVon Bobo
Maggie Baron
Maria Ellen Chiaia
Lynne Ehlers
Lorraine Razzi Freedle
Harriet S. Friedman
Hannah-Valeria Grisko
Gao Lan and Shen Heyong
Grace L. Hong
Margaret Humphris
Betty Jackson
Maria Kendler
Gita Dorothy Morena
Audrey Punnett
Sarah Sugatt
Sachiko Taki-Reece
Dyane N. Sherwood
Sylvia Simonyi-Elmer
Lenore Steinhardt
Louis Stewart
Janet Tatum
Judy D. Zappacosta


This book brilliantly illuminates the transformative power of sandplay therapy, which bridges body and mind, conscious and unconscious and thus has the potential to achieve neural integration. This is achieved through the rich mirror of testimonies by therapists about how they were led to this method through inner guidance and personal encounters with the founder of the method, Dora Kalff, and other representatives of sandplay. In this way the book also offers new and sometimes surprising insights into the history of sandplay and its application. -- Martin Kalff


While many sandplay books are about clinical technique, this one is about meaning. Jung stated, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” In this volume of collected stories, sandplay therapists from around the world speak of how they encountered ISST sandplay therapy and its impact on themselves and their clinical work. It is rare glimpse into how a therapeutic method becomes a way of life. -- Alexander Esterhuyzen


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