Expressive Therapies - Expressive Therapies

Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work (003)


Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work

with Children, Adolescents & Adults


15 days – 4 training workshops – 105 hours

Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur


Course created and directed by Mark Pearson and Helen Wilson


Authors of:  SANDPLAY & SYMBOL WORK (ACER Press, 2001)


Sandplay Therapy is a hands-on, expressive counselling and psychotherapy modality that has been in use for over seventy years. Sandplay forms a bridge between verbal therapy and the expressive therapies, combining elements of each. Sandplay allows the deeper aspects of the psyche to be worked with naturally and in safety, and is highly effective in reducing the emotional causes behind difficult behaviours.


With an extensive research and literature base, Sandplay is a powerful therapeutic method for use by established professionals. It has been used with children, adolescents and adults, in schools, hospitals, welfare agencies and private therapy practices.


This course provides a thorough training, with extensive practical experience and supervision in the Expressive Therapies approach to Sandplay Therapy and Symbol Work. The method of Sandplay that will be introduced was developed by Dora Kalff in the late 1950s, from Dr Margaret Lowenfeld’s play therapy. Sandplay is now taught and practised around the world, supported by the International Society for Sandplay Therapy.


The Expressive Therapies approach combines Jungian and Gestalt theory and applies this to working with small symbolic objects, either in a sandtray or on a drawing book. The play aspect of this approach makes it inviting and non-threatening. Sandplay has an important role in helping clients deal with emotional problems and can be incorporated into traditional counselling with children, adolescents and adults. It can offer ways to help clients resolve family issues, contact and deepen personal resourcefulness, and promote emotional resiliency. It is an effective support for transpersonal exploration.


Sandplay and Symbol Work exercises have been found to support insight into emotional problems - helping with the release of emotional stress that can drive acting out - and supporting clients with limited access to verbal skills. By utilising a number of intelligences - as identified by Harvard researcher Howard Gardner - activities involving the use of sand and symbols can provide a powerful means for emotional transformation and psychological healing.


The most extensive Sandplay training in Australia, based on twenty years of experience and development, this course provides advanced training in understanding clients’ sand creations. It provides clear guidelines and contraindications that support therapeutic confidence in using these interventions that can access deeper layers of emotion and support transformation of unconscious processes in the psyche.


This is a highly experiential, interactive program that will provide many skills to support your clients move into resilience and emotional fluency. There will be illustrated case studies. A manual will be provided for each workshop, and a Book of Readings.





WORKSHOP 1  Foundation Skills  - 5 days


            • Introduction to Sandplay Therapy and Symbol Work

                - practical experience, history and theory

            • Review of research and relevant literature

            • Role-play techniques to support integration

            • The use of drawing in counselling

            • Input on sandplay equipment

            • Contraindications for use of symbolic work and role-play

            • Creating mythological stories for self-understanding

            • Illustrated case studies


WORKSHOP 2  Advanced Skills, Psychological Frameworks  - 4 days


            • Psychological mechanisms activated by sandplay

            • Concepts from Jungian Psychology supporting sandplay

            • Use of mandala artwork for integration

            • Interpretation of spatial arrangements in the tray

            • Categories of tray types

            • Early research of the pioneers

            • Dr Lowenfeld’s theoretical framework

            • Skills practice and case illustrations


WORKSHOP 3 Research, Theory & Development of Practice - 3 days


            • Use of sandplay with special client populations

            • Use of Symbol Work in group programs

            • Review of Dora Kalff’s theoretical framework

            • Indications for analysis of sandpictures

            • Working with dreams in the sandtray

            • Co-transference in the sandplay session

            • Refinement of facilitation skills


WORKSHOP 4 Transpersonal Aspects, Supervision   - 3 days


            • Case presentations by students

            • Group supervision

            • Beyond the Shadow – completion trays

            • Skills development


The workshops must be completed in the order of 1 to 4.


Each day from 9am to approx 5pm; last day ends at 4pm.



2008 Cost in Australia:

Workshop One - 5 days: $1,195  

Workshop Two - 4 days: $970    

Workshops 3 and 4 - 3 days: $745      .

Fee includes workshop manual, lunch, morning and afternoon tea.


Accommodation is available at or near all venues - book early! 



Large art pad (A3 size); good crayons; biro; journal and/or notebook; an old towel.

Wear loose comfortable casual clothing.  Bring a camera to record sandplay pictures.



2008 - 2009  DATES & VENUES


WORKSHOP 1:   26 - 30 March, 08

WORKSHOP 2:   7 – 10 June, 08         

WORKSHOP 3:   12 – 14 September, 08

WORKSHOP 4:   7 – 9 November, 08


VENUE: Gumtree Gardens

99 Gumtree Rd (off Persse), Runcorn

Accommodation available at venue,

phone Jennifer: 0411 866 169.



SYDNEY  2008

WORKSHOP 1:   9 – 13 February, 2008

WORKSHOP 2:   3 – 6 May, 2008

WORKSHOP 3:   11 – 13 July, 2008

WORKSHOP 4:   7 – 9 October, 2008


VENUE: Marymount Mercy Centre

36 David Rd. Castle Hill, NSW

Accommodation and meals available at the venue.

Phone Sr Margaret Jones on

02 9651 1340 to book.



MELBOURNE  2008 - 09

WORKSHOP 1:    16 – 20 June, 08

WORKSHOP 2:    28 – 31 August, 08      

WORKSHOP 3:    28 – 30 October, 08

WORKSHOP 4:    16 – 18 January, 09


VENUE: New venue to be announced soon
Phone the ETIA office for nearby accommodation options


WORKSHOP 1:  26 - 29 May, 2008 4 days

WORKSHOP 2:  30 Sept - 2 Oct, 2008  3 days

WORKSHOP 3:  25 - 27 November, 2008  3 days

WORKSHOP 4:  3 - 5 February, 2009  3 days


In NZ phone Jean Parkinson 09 521 9110

Comments on the Course
Thank you for the introduction to Sandplay – the gentle way you as facilitators approached our learning, I believe, had a huge impact on how excited I am to have knowledge of this therapy. I have used it with a few of my young clients and the impact it has had on them is incredible.  – Carol Long, Centacare.


I want you to know that your training changed my work practice and also my life practice. The biggest thing I learned was to trust the process.  – Katherine Soper


The course last week was fabulous!  – Margaret Smeaton, Dept. of Juvenile Justice.


Thanks for the excellent sandplay course. It was an extremely beneficial experience for me, both from a personal and a professional perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed the highly professional and informative, yet relaxed and collegial facilitation.  – Fiona Pienaar – MIT, New Zealand.


There is a very dignified, cohesive symmetry in the way you both worked the workshop. There is calmness and fiery passion, empathy and compassion, overlaid with a huge amount of wisdom and experience, both of which were conveyed with skill and style.  – New Zealand student.


Thank you for a brilliant workshop – the facilitation of a safe place for processing and discussion, and powerful learning  – New Zealand student


A highlight was the continual unfolding of the story in the sandtray. The experience will stay with me as a wonderful one.  – Moira Berriman, Counsellor, NEWCASTLE, NSW


I found all the activities to be powerful. The trainer had a wonderful presence and openness with everyone. The manual was excellent. Every day and every activity was incredibly worthwhile and useful, both personally and professionally.  – Michelle Furner, Adolescent Counsellor, DUBBO, NSW.


The course was very useful. I’m looking forward to exploring sandplay in future workshops and increasing my skills. I liked to see how sandplay opened us up to explore the unconscious.

 – Carol Musgrave, Counselling Team Leader, CASTLE HILL, NSW.


The course was very well thought through, balanced in all aspects. I felt I received well grounded, research methods and processes that had been tried and proven. A highlight was working with the sandtrays and having the time to process the work in progress over the five days. 

– Eveline Crotty, Pastoral Care  & Chaplaincy Trainer, SYDNEY.


I value the many dimensions of practical and personal development offered in the course. The manual was well presented and the course structure was great, with ample time for reflection and discussion. – Keran Thomas, Social Worker / Counsellor, CAIRNS


This course is the missing link to Social Work practice and helping people.

– Carol  Pinfield, Student Social Worker,  CAIRNS,



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