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Workshop Description and Goals

NOTE: Due to the current global pandemic, all of our workshops are now being offered online only in 4-hour blocks of time. The same number of CEs are being awarded for each training, but in a different structure. Most of the trainings begin at 8:40 am and end at 1:00 pm MST or MDT, consistent with Corrales, New Mexico (with a 20-minute break). Please request a detailed description of goals, dates, times, and other information for any particular training at: sandtray@comcast.net.

Level 1 - Basic Tools and Methods
This 2-day workshop introduces the basic tools and methods of sand tray play therapy for both children and adults. Participants will explore various elements of the sand tray process in the context of clinical applications for treating trauma, depression, anxiety, and other issues. This training interweaves didactic discussions with hands-on exercises using miniature figurines and sand trays. The purpose of the exercises is to demonstrate how relational play may be used as a neural exercise to address the stress that arises in the nervous system during traumatic or other problematic experiences. From these exercises, workshop participants will explore and discuss how sand tray play helps to develop flexibility in the nervous system supporting a more joyful and fulfilled life. Therapists will have opportunities to practice and refine basic skills and to ask questions in a small-group setting. Prerequisites: Prior knowledge or experience with the sand tray process is helpful but not necessary.
(12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 2 - Symbolic Integration and Theory
In this 2-day workshop, participants discuss and work with symbolic meaning and basic theoretical ideas related to healing trauma and other clinical issues with sand tray therapy. The purpose of the didactic information in conjunction with hands-on experiences is to demonstrate why it is important to help clients experience the sand tray materials in a way that allows them to collaborate with their embodied brains, not just their cognitive processes. A focus for this training is on trauma as it is embedded throughout the body rather than in the cognitive layers of the brain only. In Level 2, participants continue to build on the concepts of “play as a neural exercise” for developing a nervous system that is flexible and resilient. There will be opportunities to explore core issues in play therapy. Participants also will have opportunities to practice skills using symbolic language with a workshop partner.   Prerequisites: Level 1. (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 3 - Basic Clinical Skills and Theory
Participants in this 2-day workshop will have numerous opportunities to develop and practice specific skills in working with the language of sand tray play therapy. Therapists will use exercises to learn when and how to translate play language into verbal language, and they will also explore the multidimensionality of sand tray play therapy as an expressive art. In addition, therapists will learn how to use the polyvagal theory of play to articulate how play helps to create a resilient nervouse system. Prerequisites: Levels 1 and 2. (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 4 - Advanced Clinical Skills
Building on the previous three foundational levels, participants in this 2-day workshop continue to develop facilitation skills for sand tray play therapy. The training includes discussion of professional and ethical issues related to diagnosis, treatment planning, transference, and the clinical relationship. An amplification technique, countertransference and co-tranference are given particular focus in this level. Participants will have opportunities to refine and integrate therapeutic skills through hands-on practice with workshop partners. Each participant will have an individual sand tray for practice exercises and for creating individual sand tray words. Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, and 3. (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 5 - Couples, Families and Group
Applying methods of group play therapy, participants in this 2-day workshop will learn how to facilitate sand tray play therapy with couples, families, and larger focus groups. Using various sizes of trays, including miniature trays, individual trays, and a large 5- foot circular tray, participants will be able to explore a range of possibilities for group facilitation. They will also experience both formal and informal processes for using sand tray play with groups. Integrating skills learned in previous training levels, therapists will learn how to balance individual and community needs within the group space. There will be a particular focus on how clinicians may utilize the polyvagal concept of connection versus protection for group facilitation. Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 6 - Expressive Arts and Play Therapy Integration
The focus of this 4-day workshop is on integration of various play modalities in therapeutic settings, including sand tray play, puppets, games, art and storytelling play. Through didactic and experiential methods, therapists have opportunities to learn how and when to use various modalities with both child and adult play. There is special emphasis on integrating the sand tray with play therapy and verbal therapy. In addition, participants will have opportunites to practice nervous system attunement during play therapy exercises. Prerequisites: Level 1. (24 contact hours/4 days) $590 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 7 - Grief and Trauma in Sand Tray Therapy
Through experiential exercises and didactic methods, participants in this 4-day workshop will have opportunities to use art-making activities and sand tray building exercises to explore how grief and trauma are processed in the brain, mind, and body. Using both art and sand images, participants will engage in partner practice to learn how to stay regulated in their own nervous systems while holding the powerful nonverbal images that emerge from clients during play therapy activities. The overall goal for this workshop is to develop an appreciation for the complicated relational work that evolves between therapist and client while healing grief and trauma in play therapy.  Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, & 3 or 4 (24 contact hours/4 days) $590 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 8 - Developmental Considerations with Children (early childhood & latency)
explore in this 2-day workshop how early childhood patterns of sand tray play appear not only in the very young but also in older children and even adults. This workshop also includes patterns of play of latency-age children. There will be experiential exercises, brief lectures and discussion to help participants learn how to identify and support the growing edge of young children and also older children and adults when these early patterns emerge at their growing edges. It also provides a focus for how sand tray play therapy collaborates with the brain in its push toward integration throughout the lifespan. Participants will have opportunities to identify and discuss these patterns of play therapy in terms of the developmental life span. Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2 and 3 (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 9 - Developmental Considerations with Adolescents & Adults
Using both didactic and hands-on experiences, participants in this 2-day workshop will explore the impact of play therapy on both the emotional and physical health of adolescents and adults. We will draw from the polyvagal theory of play and the template of the hero's journey to explore themes that often arise during sand tray play therapy. Participants will have opportunities to look through a developmental lens at play as it emerges in the sand tray. We also will review issues of transference and co-transference that impact treatment outcomes with adolescents and adults. This training includes skill practice with worshop partners.   Prerequisites: Levels 1- 8 (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

Level 10 - Capstone - Integrating All the Levels of Sand Tray Therapy
The intention for this final workshop of the core curriculum is to create a culminating and integrating experience that will serve both as a completion of a skill set and an opening to a deeper level of practice. This 4-day training will draw from all the previous levels of training and from the expertise of each practitioner to refine and integrate the basic knowledge and skills of sand tray clinical practice. Participants will explore clinical case material using the science of interpersonal neurobiology, the 20 powers of therapeutic play, the knowledge of symbolic language, and clinical experience. They also will have opportunities to demonstrate their clinical skills and to provide effective feedback to colleagues for the purpose of ongoing skill development.  Prerequisites: Levels 1-9 (24 contact hours/4 days) $590 (early fee). See goals for CORE workshops below.

TOPIC: Ethical Principles (6) & Cross-Cultural Issues (6) in Play Therapy: Stories of Trust and Betrayal
In this 2-day workshop, we will explore how storytelling may be used to guide our ethical decision making and to deepen our understanding of cross-cultural issues in sand tray play therapy. Therapists will have the opportunity to draw from their own story repertoires as well as a number of classic stories that serve metaphorically to guide decision making when confronted with ethical dilemmas. Going deeper than a review of the rules, participants will focus on the personal values that govern ethical decision making. When using storytelling play, how does one honor the safety that play offers to both children and adults without betraying the trust understood implicitly in these activities? There will be a focus on how storytelling is used across cultures for the purposes of healing and integration that are central to mental health. Presenter: Theresa Kestly, Ph.D.   Prerequisites: None (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee).

The workshop will help participants:

TOPIC: Sand Tray Intensive Retreat (Limit: 12 Participants) - Integrating Jung, Kalff, & IPNB (5 days)

WAIT LIST ONLY status for the 2020 dates for this wokshop. For workshop description, goals, and other details, please email:


TOPIC: Supervisor Training (6) & Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) of Play (6)
This 2-day workshop will provide a total of 12 contact hours (6 contact hours of Supervisor Training for play therapists, and 6 contact hours of the Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play). Participants will use play modalities drawing from the traditions of sand tray play therapy and Lego Serious Play (LSP) to address both of these topics. What is LSP? It is an innovative method, primarily used with adults, to enhance creative thinking and problem solving through building with Lego bricks and telling metaphorical stories. LSP has been used successfully in business settings, engineering, architecture, education, family therapy, and other mentoring contexts. This workshop explores an adaptation of the established LSP process for the purposes of supervisor training for play therapists. Theresa Kestly is a trained Lego Serious Play facilitator. Prerequisites: None (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee).

The workshop will help participants use play therapy activities to address the following goals/tasks:

TOPIC:  Sand and Soul Collage

For workshop description, goals, and other details, please email:


TOPIC:  Sand and Spirit

This workshop is two days of personal and professional growth through exploration of sand, play and ceremony. Participants use simple art materials and sand tray play therapy to build bridges to the wisdom and guidance that is within. No previous knowledge or artistic skills are required. Co-Presenter:  Wendy Thunderchief, MA.  $295 (early fee).

The workshop will help participants:

TOPIC:  Sand Tray Group Counseling in Schools & Clinics: An Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) Perspective
The focus of this workshop is the use of sand tray play therapy as a counseling technique with groups in schools or clinics. This workshop includes case vignettes, organizational principles for groups, use of individual sand tray counseling versus group sand tray play, application of sand tray counseling techniques and practical information. Interpersonal Neurobiolgy (IPNB) principles will be woven into the theoretical understanding of group sand tray. Prerequisites: Levels 1 & 2 (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee)

The workshops will help participants:

TOPIC:  Sand, Play, and Art: A Playful "Artitude" - When Children are Anxious, Grieving, or Traumatized
Art making and sandplay enhance one another as expressive play therapy modalities, and they are especially effective in treating children with anxiety, grief, or trauma. These modalities activate right hemisphere processes that help to integrate sensory, emotional, and imaginative information, registering the actions, feelings, and intentions of participants. This workshop will present case examples, theoretical ideas, practical suggestions, and hands-on experiences that will foster the integrative power of sand tray play and art making in play therapy settings

Presenters:  Donna Hanna-Chase, MA and Theresa Kestly, PhD.  Prerequisite: None (12 contact hours/2 days) $295 (early fee).

The workshop will help participants to:

TOPIC:  Sand, Play, and Art: Mandalas & Sacred Circles - Healing Anxiety, Grief, and Trauma in Play Therapy, Cross-Cultural Considerations
Mandalas restore our sense of belonging, helping us to return from our sense of separateness to a realm of unity where we may fulfill our potential for wholeness. Integrating Jungian and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) concepts in this 3-day workshop, we will explore how wholeness and inner balance help to heal anxiety, grief and trauma in both children and adults in play therapy settings. Mandalas and sacred circles exist across all cultures and throughout the lifespan. Neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist suggests that the right hemisphere engages in processing “in the round” as it takes in the whole of things rather than looking at bits and pieces of information in a linear fashion that is so characteristic of the left hemisphere. He emphasizes that we need both sides but that we are in danger in Western societies of ignoring the right hemisphere processing where relationships, empathy, and visions of wholeness prevail. In this workshop we will honor both sides as we explore in practical ways how to tap into this natural longing for unity and wholeness through mandala creation, sand tray play, and conscious attention to sacred circles within a science-informed and cross-cultural context.

Presenters:  Donna Hanna-Chase, MA and Theresa Kestly, PhD.  Prerequisites: None (18 contact hours/3 days) $435 (early fee).

The workshop will help participants to:

TOPIC:  Sand, Play, and Art: Healing Grief through Play and Creative Expression
This workshop is designed to tap the unique creative force within us.  Through personal and group art making and sand tray play we will experiment with methods of deep listening.  We will honor the sacred, relentless power within that invites us to be who we are.  We will play, invent, express, support and nurture each other and remind ourselves that inspiration is always available if we speak from its source.  Psychoanalyst Rollo May wrote in Courage to Create, "If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself."     Co-Presenter:  Donna Hanna-Chase, MA.  Prerequisites: Levels 1 & 2 (24 contact hours/4 days) $590 (early fee). Credit for Level 7 in CORE program.

The workshop will help participants:

Consult:  Sandplay Group Consultation for Therapists
Participants will present case material related to sand tray play therapy for consultation purposes.  Presentations will consist of videotapes, art work, sand tray photos, treatment plans, case notes and other relevant materials. Therapists also have opportunities to incorporate sand tray play as part of the consultation process.  Groups are small to allow for individual attention.  Limit: 8 participants.
Request individual brochure for schedule and cost.  Fees vary according to the number of contact hours and the number of participants who register.  Prerequisites:  Levels 1 and 2 of Sand Tray Training Workshops and Individual Interview.

The workshop will help participants:

Agenda for Workshops

9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Instruction, Demonstration, Discussion
11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. BREAK
11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Instruction, Demonstration, Discussion
12:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. LUNCH BREAK
2:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Instruction, Demonstration, Discussion
3:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. BREAK
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Instruction, Demonstration, Discussion
5:30 p.m. Adjourn









Workshop Goals, Levels 1-10*

Core Workshops (Introductory and Levels 1 through 10):

The workshops will help participants:

*PLEASE NOTE: The goals listed above for the 10 levels that represent our overall CORE training program. In addition to these core program goals, each specific workshop has its own unique set of goals. Please email sandtray@comcast.net to request the specific goals for each workshop.

Individual Consultation Sessions:

Individual Sand Tray sessions are recommended prior to or concurrent with training workshops. Please inquire about special rates if you have completed or are registered for the Level I workshop.


Refunds: Registration fees are refundable (less $50.00 administrative fee) if written notice is post-marked no later than 30 days before the group begins. Refunds require a minimum 6-week processing time. Registrants may transfer/sell their enrollment to another qualified person at any time.

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