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005 | Sandtray Therapy for Traumatized Adolescents

Preconference Workshops


Daniel Sweeney, Ph.D.



Approved For CE

Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, and Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Midwives, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners




Traumatized adolescents need a therapeutic experience that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional. The therapeutic distance and kinesthetic nature of sandtray therapy help them process intrapsychic pain and experience abreaction in a safe environment. The psychological and neurobiological effects of trauma and the neurotherapeutic benefit of sandtray will be discussed to help psychologists, other licensed mental health professionals, and medical professionals understand this trauma treatment modality. For traumatized teens, verbalizing pain may be incredibly difficult and neurologically hampered, and a projective means of therapeutic expression, such as sandtray therapy, would be essential to produce positive treatment outcomes. Participants will learn that sandtray therapy has both psychotherapeutic and neurotherapeutic benefits. Additionally, the presenter will discuss that since all trauma involves an overwhelming of the senses, and the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-5 for PTSD are largely sensory-based, the trauma treatment should be sensory-based, which sandtray therapy uniquely provides. This workshop will explore trauma and the practical application of sandtray as a therapeutic medium using a PowerPoint-based lecture, photo examples of sandtray materials, and case studies.  

Learning Objectives

Discuss the neurobiological effects of trauma and the neurotherapeutic benefits of sandtray therapy 
Identify the basic materials used in sandtray therapy and develop strategies involved in the process of doing sandtray therapy 
Assess which clients and patients would benefit from sandtray therapy by a mental or medical health professional