Certification Program

At the Sand Tray Training Institute of New Mexico we offer three kinds of certificates: (1) Continuing Education, (2) Certificate of Program Completion, and (3) Practitioner Certificate of Training. A Continuing Education Certificate may be earned in as little as two days, whereas the Sandtray Practitioner Certificate Program is expected to be a two to three year process for most individuals. Our training includes in-person and online modules allowing individuals the option for combining the two methods to obtain any of the certificates we offer. 

Pathways to Certification

Training certificates are awarded at the end of each workshop to verify completion of each individual workshop. These certificates are most often used for continuing education purposes. We recommend that therapists take at least Levels 1 and 2 before starting to work with children. Working with adults requires more extensive work. We distinguish between the preparation for children and the preparation for adults because children are very familiar with using play to resolve problems, and so they are not surprised when their therapy issues come up in the tray. Adults can be quite startled when they see what they have created because adults are more capable of analyzing the symbolic meaning of their sandtray worlds as soon as they engage their more sophisticated language and cognitive abilities.

Please review APT contact hour policy exceptions, detailed in the Continuing Education Credits section below.

This certificate is awarded when a person has completed all ten levels of our core curriculum. You can view the description of these ten workshops by reviewing the descriptions on our website. It is not necessary to have a certificate of completion if you want to work with children or use it as an adjunct to your current practice. The certificate of completion is for people who want to focus on the sand tray as their primary modality and for clinicians who want to work primarily with adults.

In contrast to some training programs, we offer therapists a method for integrating sand tray training with their current clinical practices in an on-going structure. We do not require therapists to do their own sand tray process before attending workshops even though we do think it is quite helpful and at some point, necessary for therapists who want to specialize in sand tray therapy. Each state has professional boards for social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other professionals. These state boards decide what is required for mental health professionals to practice therapy. We are not aware of any state boards that “certify” or “license” professionals to practice the sandtray modality. Every state board requires that each professional meet the ethical requirement of not practicing beyond the bounds of his or her competence. Competence is established in several different ways: (1) completing a program of training, (2) appropriate supervision, and (3) current graduate-level theoretical and research readings. From there it is the duty of all professionals to be able to support their training, supervision, and studies for any specific specialty they want to practice.

The Certificate of Program Completion is awarded automatically when a participant completes all 10 Core Levels. This program does not require any supervisory consultations. Our Capstone Level 10 is the final core session that needs to be completed onsite at the Sand Tray Training Institute in Corrales, New Mexico. This workshop has prerequisites of Levels 1-9.

Partial attendance at any of the Core Levels does not count toward the Certificate of Program Completion. Makeup work for partial attendance of any Core Level, due to unavoidable circumstances, may be completed on an individual basis at our hourly rate for private consultations.

Our most in-depth certificate requires completion of all 10 core workshops plus supervision and other requirements. It is a process that will help you to establish your competence to practice the sandtray method. Workshop participants may apply for this program after they have completed 60 contact hours of the core workshops. Please request practitioner training packets describing requirements if you are interested in this program.

Continuing Education Credits

The Sand Tray Training Institute of New Mexico is approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors, NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5972. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Sand Tray Training Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. The New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners accepts all continuing education credits that are approved by NBCC. In addition, the Institute is approved by the Association for Play Therapy, APT Approved Provider (99-052), to offer continuing education specific to play therapy.  The Sand Tray Training Institute of New Mexico follows all CE guidelines and maintains responsibility for the program. All courses meet the qualifications for 6 contact hours of continuing education credit per 1 full day of training (see APT exception for online classes). It is always a good idea to check with your own credentialing agencies (for example, state boards or affiliated agencies) to ensure that the CE credits you receive from us are applicable to your specific situation.

APT Policy for Contact / Non-Contact Hours: APT considers all online training as non-contact CEs. APT has updated their policy as of July 1, 2022, to stipulate that for purposes of application, a maximum of 75 hours of “live webinar” training may be used to meet the 150-hour requirement. Our online and hybrid trainings meet the APT requirement for a “live webinar” designation on certificates. Please check APT Credentialing Standards, especially standards 06 and 08, for detailed information on continuing education requirements for credentialed play therapists. This document is available on their website, www.a4pt.org. The following statement will appear on certificates of online training participants.

This workshop meets APT’s definition of a “live Webinar.”

The APT offers a Registered Play Therapy (RPT) credential that has its own set of specific requirements. Although we are an approved provider, we do not organize our curriculum around those specific requirements, for example, so many hours in play therapy history, theory, skill practice, and so on. We cannot verify how the APT counts these hours in their credentialing. Please check with your supervisor and/or the APT to check with them how they would interpret our objectives and descriptions in terms of the specifics required.

Co-Sponsor Changes for Psychologists: We want to sincerely thank Risë VanFleet for being our co-sponsor for many years to cover CEs for psychologists. Recently she informed us that she will be focusing her work on her Filial Therapy and Animal Assisted Play Therapy®, and in so doing, she will no longer continue offering co-sponsorships. I have taken one of her Filial Therapy classes and read her book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy. I can enthusiastically recommend both, and I believe her work in both areas has contributed greatly to the field of play therapy. I wish her well in all her future endeavors. Thank you, Risë.

Searching for a Co-Sponsor: We will welcome any suggestions if you know someone who would be willing to co-sponsor our trainings for psychologists. Please contact us.

For our in-person workshops, participants earn six continuing education units (CEs) per workshop day (6 contact hours). Most of our workshops are two full days (12 CEs) or four full days (24 CEs), and a few are three days (18 CEs). Each person who attends the entire training will receive a Certificate of Training verifying the number of CEs earned. We are not permitted to give partial credit per requirements of our credentialing agencies.

In our online workshops, participants earn four continuing education units (CEs) per workshop day (4 contact hours). Most of our online workshops are three half days (12 CEs) or six half days (24 CEs). Each person who attends the entire training will receive a Certificate of Training verifying the number of CEs earned. We are not permitted to give partial credit per requirements of our credentialing agencies. Our online workshops typically begin at 8:40 am and end at 1:00 pm with a 20-minute break. New Mexico is in the Mountain Time Zone.

We do require constant video access during our online groups for purposes of attendance. We also value the opportunities to demonstrate and create the relational qualities that are essential for the development of the therapist’s ability to witness and create safety through our video connections. We prefer a natural background for your video instead of a digital one to ensure camera stability.

Presence & Play in Sand: A Training Network

Following are the teaching members of our Certification Network. We each have our own training sites, but we collaborate on curriculum, requirements, and ongoing development. Although there are slight differences in our requirements and teaching styles, we each recognize the training that has been done at any one of the three sites. Each site has its own standard for the percentage of hours that need to be completed to have your certificate issued from that training site. The Sand Tray Training Institute of New Mexico requires 60% of your training to be completed through their online or onsite trainings for your certificate to be issued by them. Please inquire at any of the following sites for more information. 

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Reciprocity Levels 1 – 10



(407) 252-5641

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Reciprocity Levels 1 – 10



(407) 831-2880

Corrales, New Mexico

Reciprocity Levels 1 – 10



(505) 720-1177

Bloomington, Indiana

Reciprocity Levels 1 – 4 only



(812) 323-8230

Core Levels of Training with Prerequisites

Practioners may complete this 156-hour self-paced program in their own timing using a combination of in-person and online workshops. Completing all the core levels or earning a Practitioner’s Training Certificate may involve 2 to 3 years of training. We require the first 3 levels to be taken in sequence, but consequent levels may be taken by meeting the pre-requisites listed for each level.

If you are trying to register for several sequential workshops at one time and are unable to do so, please contact us. We may need to arrange pre-requisite waivers for you.

Level 1 – Introduction to Sand Tray Play Therapy, Basic Tools & Methods 

Prerequisites: none

Level 2 – Symbolic Integration and Theory 

Prerequisites: Level 1

Level 3 – Clinical Skills & Theory 

Prerequisites: Levels 1 & 2

Level 4 – Advanced Clinical Skills 

Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, & 3

Level 5 – Couples, Family, and Group 

Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, & 3

Level 6 – Expressive Arts and Play Therapy Integration

Prerequisites: Levels 1 & 2

Level 7 – Grief and Trauma 

Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, & 3 

Level 8 – Developmental Considerations with Children (Early Childhood & Latency)

Prerequisites: Levels 1 & 2

Level 9 – Developmental Considerations with Adolescents and Adults

Prerequisites: Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, & 8 

Level 10 – Capstone Workshop

Prerequisites: Levels 1-9


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