Sand Tray Therapy

At my first practicum site, the director told us that we were welcome to use any child-friendly intervention we deemed appropriate except for sand tray because she didn’t want to deal with the mess. Well, Dr. Karen Fried found a way to not only eliminate the mess associated with sand trays but also make this intervention possible on telehealth!

Photo by Jorge Sepu00falveda on

This site does not create a link that you send over Zoom like the other activities in this series. Instead, either the therapist or client screen shares. If the therapist is sharing their screen, they will want to grant remote access to the client so the client can create their sand tray.

Before using this activity, therapists should make sure they have completed continuing education to be competent in sand tray therapy.

I have to say, I really like doing sand tray work online. Here are the benefits I’ve found:

  1. Kids can put the same character in the sand tray multiple times, so there are more options.
  2. Kids can adjust the size of the characters the put in the tray, which opens up the scene for more interpretation based on which pieces they make larger or smaller.
  3. It’s really easy to save the image once the child is done, and it saves right to the therapist’s hard drive.
  4. No clean-up!

My hesitation with online sand tray work is:

  1. The existing research on sand tray therapy focuses on in-person, so it’s possible the online version is less effective and we just don’t have the data yet.
  2. There’s a sensory component to sand tray work that you lose when you go online, which I guess is the trade off of not having to vacuum sand out of your office.

This is a great way to bring sand tray therapy into the telehealth setting!

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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