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Sandtray Training

Sandtray Training

Kirsty Bilski, Director of Way Forward Counselling Services, has used sandtray as a psychotherapeutic tool in therapy sessions and supervision throughout her career. She originally trained with Ken Rabone at the Iron Mill Institute in Exeter (Now Iron Mill College), and has gained an extensive knowledge and understanding of this approach as well as awareness of underpinning theory. She has written academically about the efficacy of sandtray in therapy as well as its use in Supervision.

Kirsty has also completed research surrounding the different theoretical models of supervision and how they might be applied to working with sandtray in a supervisory context. Kirsty is also currently working on a PhD research project involving the use of sand with adolescent clients.

Broadly speaking there are two main theoretical strands to working with a sandtray, one originating from the early work of Margaret Lowenfeld, the other from the later work of Dora Kallf. The approach associated with its earlier use tends to be (not exclusively so) known as 'Sandtray Therapy', the later approach is known as 'Sandplay Therapy' being more associated with a Jungian Analytical approach.

Kirsty's approach to using sand in therapy and supervision uses an integrative theory base and is particularly aimed at safe and ethical practice. Sandtray is a powerful medium which requires attention to detail and practitioner awareness in order to hold the space appropriately.

About the Courses...


All courses run between 9.30am and 4.30pm with 2 x 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break. Lunch and refreshments are provided although there are various shops available within walking distance of the office. Places on each course are limited so early booking is essential..

Training is delivered at

Way Forward Counselling Services, Swan House Business Centre, 146-147 St Helen's Road, Swansea SA1 4DE (www.wayforwardcounselling.com)

If you would like to book onto one of the following training days then please contact Kirsty Bilski 07971 264251 or email kirsty.wayforward@gmail.com

You can organise to attend as an individual or if you have a group of between 3 & 9 people, and would like to attend together, then Kirsty would be willing to organise a training day specifically around your group requirements.

Each training day costs £120 per person per day. 
(includes light lunch and refreshments)

A CPD certificate will be provided on completion of each training day.

£20 Deposit with the balance to be paid at least 1 week before training date.

Course Overview

Day 1: Introduction to using Sandtray in Counselling

Available to all practitioners who want to use sandtray safely, whether you currently work with adults or children and young people. This course will provide you with a background understanding of the theory behind the approach as well as the practical skills to get started. You will learn how to begin using sandtray as a part of your current practice and build experience through experiential practice with other members on the course.

Sandtray is a powerful tool and there is a requirement that attendees recognise they may be emotionally stimulated by the content in sandtrays, by aspects shared by others and by their own process.

Day 2: Advanced Skills in using Sandtray in Counselling

This course builds on learning gained from the introduction to using sandtray course. Again this is an experiential day and will involve group, dyad and triad practice. You will gain more advanced skills in working with clients using sandtray, an awareness of different approaches to take, along with using sandtray in a group setting. A deeper understanding of how differrent approaches to counselling theory can be applied to the use of sandtray.

Day 3: Using Sandtray in Supervision

This course builds on the Introduction and Advanced Courses, it is for supervisors who wish to work safely with sandtray in a supervisory capacity. This is for established supervisors who have received previous supervision training and are specifically aware of the 7 Eyed Model (Hawkins & Shohet 2012), along with other supervision theory.

There is a requirement for attendees to have attended the previous 2 days training although, where you already have a working knowledge of sandtray then this may be waived on a case by case basis. The course considers exploring case presentation in a sandtray, thinking about safeguarding and protection issues as well as ethical and safe practice.

Awareness of the significant differences between using a sandtray therapeutically and in a supervision capacity will also be explored.

Course Feedback

The following feedback is posted here with specific permission from those who have completed evaluation forms and attended the above training courses.

What was your experience of sandtray training?

"Excellent introduction, Knowledgeable and clear trainer. Engaging Sessions".
"Very Good. A warm and deepening experience that followed on well from the first days training".
"I have really enjoyed the day. It has been comprehensive and enlightening."
"An amazing, inspiring, experience which evoked lots of unconscious processes thoughts and feelings".
"A warm and comprehensive introduction to using the sand tray with clients".
"Excellent. Very thorough. Well explained and made interesting".
"I was pleased to find my questions about sandtray were covered by this initial day - some of the practical sessions were a challenge but we were warned about this prior to the course".
"Very good. I really enjoyed it. Thank you very much".
"Extremely informative introduction. Kirsty expertly explained the process".
"Interesting, informative, experiential and practice linked to theory".
"None until today, enjoyed the day learning about Sandtray".
"Very enjoyable day, great introduction".
"A good mix of demonstration and experiential experiences of using Sandtray".
"Very good introduction to Sandtray, liked getting ideas on questions to use to facilitate understanding".
"A thoroughly enjoyable 2 days with like minded people - this has really helped increase my knowledge and I intend to use it in my practice".
"A lovely enjoyable learning experience."
"Excellent."
"This training was a refresher on my original training, the facilitator had a deep knowledge of the subject. The training reminded me of the importance of 'Sandtray' in the therapy room."

What could have improved your experience of sandtray training?

"More training days available".

"I am not aware of any particular changes needed".

"Nothing, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the lunch was a bonus and fab!"

"Really enjoyed the hands on experience - I think I would have liked a bit more theory but understand this is a difficult balance to achieve. (Extenisive handout backing up theoretical content of the course is supplied at the end of each day Kirsty Bilski)".

"Nicer biscuits and more crisps (Sorted already Kirsty Bilski)".

"None/nothing everything was extremely well thought out and I enjoyed every part of the training".

"Longer time to have theory than experiential learning".

"I think this was pitched just right with the righ amount of challenges".

"Suggested questions - other than that fabulous" (this has been attended to - Kirsty Bilski).

"If I had attended all training days"

Is there anything that has particularly resonated with you today?

"The power of a medium which enables sel-communication, and begins to unlock the unconcious thoughts and feelings".

"The opportunity and experience of working with the course leader on a one to one. The cohesion of the group as a whole. The use of different types of sandtray (individual and group)".

"How just sand in itself is powerful. Also the way in which the sandtray directs itself and is fluid".

"Definitely, how powerful sandtray can be for a client".

"The hands on esperiential approach. The informal atmosphere - the small group".

"How powerful the sandtray is and can stir up emotions which cannot be prepared for".

"The value in visual representations of our inner mind, and how surprising these quickly surface when working this way".

"I just found it really useful to see it done with suggestions of questions and reflections".

"How powerful sandtray can be with clients that are unable to vocalise. I found the personal experience of sandtray emotive and unforgettable".

"The use of Gestalt, Understanding the difference between sandtray and 'Sandplay'".

"How well Kirsty spoke about the training. I felt I knew less than anybody else but was fully put at ease and enjoyed the whole experience".

"The link between sandtray and dreams".

"How much you can get with just sand without adding the miniatures".

"Again the power of this kind of therapy which cuts to the 'heart of the matter' quickly - that you need to be skiilled and qualified to do this work".

"How much of an unconscious process it really is - takes me back to my childhood".

"The emotions that can arise from working with sand alone as well as miniatures".

"How strongly I connect with this way of working both as a counsellor and as a client".

How will this training inform your practice?

"With suitable YP I will implement Sandtray sessions. I will learn to lay aside my agenda to seek understanding and acceptance with YP."

"On many levels. I hope to incorporate it into my practice in bereavement and trauma."

"It will help clients move from using their heads (cerebral thinking) and move to heart and soul work, tapping into the emotional realm more quickly."

"It will be a valuable tool."

"This training will open up some areas of my practice - free up options in communicating, shifting and becoming aware with clients."

"Help with 'creativity' and 'benefit' practice."

"I am just starting out as a play therapist and now have a better understanding of the process of sandtray."

"I hope it will help me to help older boys be more open to this way of working."

"An extremely useful addition to the therapeutic process."

"This training will be useful in my integrative practice. It is a powerful tool to use with any client, but particularly with clients who may struggle to find words for their feelings. It is also a helpful way of containing powerful or frightening experiences."

"I don't know at this point, I would have to go on and learn more as a beginner and then use it with clients."

"I intend to complete the second workshop and start using sandtray in my practice."

"It has made me more aware of the process and I am interested in doing further practice."

"I feel more confident in bringing sandtray into my practice."

"I work with young children but I am much more aware of the theoretical aspects of sandtray support."

"It will be an informative and valuable tool in my therapy box."

"This sandtray will be incorporated into my counselling practice and I will use it regularly."

"I will continue to use this with my clients (adults/child) I will also be looking at using this in my own clinical supervision. Facilitators own passion for the subject was evident."