The world in the sand tray comes from within, but it feels separate; therefore, it feels safe. It is easier for a person of any age to talk about a scene in a sand tray (a rabbit that is hiding behind a bush possibly frightened of the nearby tiger) than it is to speak directly about his or her own life. At a subconscious level, connections are made between the sand tray world themes and the creator’s own life. These do not have to be pointed out, discussed or highlighted for healing to take place; they are processed on a subconscious level.
Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology who developed concepts that still influence sand tray therapy today, once said, “Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has wrestled in vain.”
It is not uncommon for those who have completed their first sand tray to remark that they felt a surprising emotional release after the experience. Of course, it typically requires repeated sand tray therapy sessions to fully express an experience and/or work through deeper issues.
When they are creating a world in the sand, even young children seem to intuitively know that they are engaging in something meaningful, something powerful, something that matters.