An introduction to Sandtray

By Vicki Williams-Patterson, MCAT, LPC-AT, ATR-BC, CCSTand Melissa Dilworth, MS, LPC-AT-S, ATR-BC, CCST 

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Sandtray therapy is a clinical modality used by mental health providers to help individuals express and process both their conscious and unconscious experiences.  This often silent activity focuses on the use of a “free and protected” space in which an individual uses concrete miniature items to present a metaphorical or symbolic world.  The healing takes place through the attuned witnessing by a non-judgmental and highly engaged therapist.   This workshop will introduce participants to the founding processes of Margaret Lowenfeld’s “World Technique” and Dora Kalff’s “Sandplay Therapy”.  Participants will have the opportunity to experience the power of personal symbols through activities and will be able to ask questions about the Texas Sandtray Association certification process. 

Learning Objectives:   

Objective 1: Participants will be provided information about  the Texas Sandtray Association and opportunities for mental health providers to become certified in sandtray therapy.

Objective 2:  Participants will understand the key components of sandtray therapy including the “Free and Protected Space” and the importance of an attuned witness to the individual’s personal and symbolic process. 

Objective 3: Participants will have the opportunity to engage in exercises to enhance their understanding of sandtray as a therapeutic modality. 


Vicki Williams-Patterson, MCAT, LPC-AT, ATR-BC has worked as an art therapist since 1983. Her graduate education at Hahnemann University was strongly rooted in developmental psychology and psychodynamic theory, and she has continued with that orientation. Since 1990, she has been conducting seminars on the therapeutic uses of art in the counseling process at local, regional and national conferences.  Since receiving her graduate degree in Art Therapy, she has engaged in advanced professional training in the areas of trauma recovery, Jungian psychology, and Sand Tray Process. In November 2009 she received the American Art Therapy Association’s Annual Award for Clinical Services. From 2013 – 2015, she served as the President of the Texas Mental Health Counselors Association, a division of the Texas Counseling Association. She recently completed the training necessary for becoming a Certified Clinical Sandtray Therapist.

Melissa Dilworth is an LPC-AT-S, ATR-BC and CCST Trainer from San Antonio, Texas.  Melissa’s graduate studies at The College of New Rochelle, was focused primarily on psychodynamic theory but other theories were explored throughout the program. Currently Melissa works at Clarity Child Guidance Center providing outpatient therapy services for children and their families.  She has been an Art Therapist for over 20 years working in a full array of settings with children, teens, adults and families.  Throughout her long career as an art therapist she has been a constant advocate for the art therapy profession and a dedicated, compassionate healer for children and their families. Melissa is also a credentialed as a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and Sandplay Practitioner by Sandplay Therapists of America.