Integrating Play Therapy in the Home-Based Setting Module

Module Sections:

Sandtray Play Therapy


Originally developed by Dr. Margaret Lowenfeld, the original practice of using a sandtray for therapeutic purposes was coined the term, "Lowenfeld World Technique" in 1979. Dr. Lowenfeld used metal trays with water, sand, and miniature toys- asking her clients to create "world pictures" (Homeyer, 1998). Since Dr. Lowenfeld's time, many other play therapists have adapted her original idea and used it in practice as well. Dora Kalff adapted the technique to a more Jungian approach and called it Sandplay Therapy (Homeyer, 1998). Present day sandtray therapy is a widely used method, but adapted to suit many different approaches; Lowenfeld, Jungian Sandplay, Gestalt, cognitive-behavioral, and many others (Homeyer, 1998).

Sandtray therapy is one of the most versatile approaches to play therapy that can create an environment of total immersive creativity for the client. Not only can this medium illuminate non-verbalized issues, but it also allows for a safe, comfortable distance between the client and therapist, allows for a sense of client control, and creates a unique setting for symbolism, metaphors, and storytelling.


Although sand and water were the original mediums used, rice, cornmeal, and small beads have been added to the list of mediums as well. Examples such as rice and beads allow for easier cleanup, especially when being used in a home-setting. Trays work best if they are waterproof and made of either plastic or wood. They should also be blue to emulate sky or water. Although a 30"x20"x3" tray is recommended (Homeyer, 1998), smaller or more transportable trays may be used in home-based therapy work.

Miniature types, shapes, and sizes may vary and there are 12 main categories of miniatures that should be included in a sandtray therapy kit. These include:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Buildings
  • Vehicles
  • Vegetation
  • Fences
  • Nature Items
  • Fantasy
  • Spiritual
  • Landscape
  • Household

(Homeyer, 1998).

Audio Companion: Integrating Play Therapy