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How you can use sand play in wilderness therapy

Posted by Jerry Bergosh on

Sand tray has a unique way of bringing an element of nature into the therapy office. But what about using the element of sand in it's natural habitat? 

Bethany Anderson LCSW, RPT has found a way to bring the power of sand tray to the world of wilderness therapy. For over a year and a half now, while working for the Anasazi Foundation, she has almost weekly hauled out miniatures in a fishing tackle box to the teens and adults she serves in order to do sand tray play therapy with them in the wild. After Bethany locates suitable sand or dirt, she creates a tray outline using straight sticks gathered from nature. In addition to using it in individual therapy, she has also constructed large, multi-divided group trays using sticks and shallow trenches as the outer boundary lines in order for sand tray to be utilized in group therapy.

"It's definitely a bit of a hassle," Bethany admits, "especially when I am required to channel my tetris skills to get the miniatures back into the tackle box at the end of a session during a day with a pressured time frame. But it is worth it. I have witnessed powerful moments of young walkers gaining insight and healing through trail sand trays. When I took this job at Anasazi, it was my dream to be able to bring sand tray play therapy to the trail. It is very rewarding to continue to do so." Play Therapy Toys in the Wild Bethany lives in Mesa, AZ and has had her RPT for two years. She worked as a play therapist in community mental health for 3 years before coming to Anasazi a little over 2 1/2 years ago. She is willing to answer more questions about wilderness sand tray to any curious soul.


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