Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), an influential Swiss psychiatrist who was known for developing well-known concepts such as synchronicity and the collective unconscious, is responsible for creating the concept of individuation, the theoretical basis of Sand Tray Therapy. One of the key concepts of analytical psychology, individuation is a process which illuminates unconscious thoughts by way of interpretation. This could be played out in art therapy, music therapy, sand therapy, and other forms of therapy that rely heavily on the interpretation of behavior than direct verbal communication.
The end goal of sand tray therapy is the full development of the individual self; clients gain a better understanding of themselves as the therapist discusses their inner thought processes with them. Over time, the underdeveloped elements of the psyche, the person’s life experiences and consciousness are all integrated so that the person can finally self-actualize.
Through a natural, self-guided and self-healing process, Sand Tray Therapy allows clients to express their experiences and feelings, which increases social integration, personal growth, and development. The sand tray therapist acts as a “witness” to the client, the “builder,” as the client uses mini figurines to depict his or her inner world. As the figurines are placed in the sandbox, analysis occurs during the session as the builder tells a story; witnesses observe the positions and patterns of the figurines which may bear symbolic significance and help therapists to understand the clients’ thought process for addictive behaviors.