How do I choose a sandtray??
In my years as an RPT-Supervisor, I find clinicians create unnecessary anxiety regarding the “right” tray, figures, and set-up. While the tray, figures, and set-up are important in creating a free and protected space, the RELATIONSHIP and your method of processing trump these individual factors. To choose the best set-up for you, consider the following points:
1) will you work with individuals only or individuals, groups, couples, and families.
2) will you work with children or adults
3) how large is your space?
4) are you stationary in one location or mobile
5) what is your budget
6) is your space shared with another clinician(s) or private
If you only work with individuals, a standard size tray is ideal. If space allows, add a second tray for more in-depth processing. If you work with groups, families, and couples, on the other hand, a large second tray or smaller individual trays offer the best flexibility for clients’ therapeutic needs. Ron’s Trays (see link in the box below) offers an octagonal tray perfect for groups and families. Space is a requirement.
If you only work with children, your space is generally in competition with other toys. Ensure your playroom is balanced so children may equally choose one play modality over another based therapeutic need. If you work primarily with adults, you can expand your space and make room for additional figures and a second tray. If working with both, you’ll need to identify how to best ‘flex’ your space depending on the age/need of your client.
Mobile therapists are hard-pressed to travel with a full-sized sandtray. If you provide mobile sandtray, invest in a smaller, durable container and transportable figures. You can also skip the heavy sand and use butcher paper to create the boundaries of a ‘tray’. While this is not an ideal set-up, it is a superior choice to talk therapy for children and adolescents and as you may know, mobile therapists must be adaptable.
Budget. Oh, to live a life with unlimited play therapy/sandtray funds! Once you have your OWN space invest in a good quality tray. By good quality tray, I mean a water-resistant, solid tray with lid and a tray stand with rolling, locking casters. A good tray and tray stand can cost $400-$700. Worth every penny. Clients (especially adults) seriously do better work with higher quality items.