Sand Trays

Posted: 10 August 2006 in therapy

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It’s the reason I’m seeing Ann. Oh yes, apparently, I’m damaged. I could go into it, but you’d be bored and I want you to stay, not run screaming from the scene. Someday I’ll tell you about the exaggerated startle response (no, it’s not fun to slam the door and see what I’ll do!) or maybe about the trouble concentrating (what was I doing again?) but you’re probably safe from a recounting of the things I think about when I’m alone. Frankly, I wish I were safe from the things I think about when I’m alone. But today, you’ve won the therapy lottery. It’s a jackpot. A windfall. You lucky duck. I’m going to tell you about sand trays.

Not what I did (you wouldn’t like that) but about sand trays in general. Have you ever done a sand tray? I haven’t…or rather, hadn’t. Ann has a waist high table, flat and slightly tilted toward you, and about as big as a coffee table. It’s filled with soft, pale sand. It isn’t so shallow or narrow that you feel restricted to what you can do. And you can do anything. Draw, place small figurines (since you asked, I placed a pirate and a palm tree but I’m not telling you what else), anything at all. It seems innocent and easy. But this is still therapy, people.

It was amazing that I knew what I was doing and had an entire inner dialogue about it (oh sure, put that one down, then you’ll have to explain it to Ann and she’ll know you’re a freak show, so put it back and hey! wait a second! don’t put that in the sand, now you’ve done it, oh but here’s another one, oh sure…and so on) but I was unable to build a pretty little scene that would make Ann happy. It was depressing, not being stronger than my own mind.

We scoffed at the sand trays upon reading about them in Ann’s bio but it was surprisingly soothing. Well, not the depressing part, but the rest. I thought it would be all rocks and little rakes and concentric circles. Instead there were plastic snakes and monsters, little metal tanks and pretty plastic things of all kinds. Part of me felt silly, playing in the sand, but mostly, I enjoyed putting down just about whatever I wanted. Too bad it was, as I mentioned, depressing. I can only imagine what I’d do with a sand tray in my own house. A girl can dream…


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