Practitioner in Therapeutic Sandplay Skills

Course Details

An effective non-talking therapy for adults, adolescents, children and families

Become an accredited Practitioner in Therapeutic Sandplay Skills by means of a two stage programme that covers the two major approaches to sandplay therapy: Jungian and Kalffian - a blended learning programme that integrates theory, experiential work and practice.  

Table of Contents  

Designed for all mental health practitioners including:

  • Counsellors
  • Creative arts therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Paediatricians
  • Play Therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists

In sandplay therapy the client sets up a world in a sand tray that corresponds to their inner state using objects and figures in the arrangement of the sand. In this manner, through free, creative play, unconscious processes are made visible in a three-dimensional form.

Through a series of images that take shape in this way, the process of individuation described by Carl Jung is stimulated and brought to fruition. Sandplay has been termed an 'X-ray of the Psyche' you can see the changes in the clients' processes and progression.

Many therapists have found that clients who have difficulties in verbally expressing their real emotions or who have adopted a defensive position move on a stage when using sand. Sand is an ideal medium to integrate with many talking therapies modalities. It may be used with clients of all ages and cultures.

An Effective and Efficient Course

This new course offers both a broad and in-depth treatment of the knowledge required to become a PTI/PTUK accredited Practitioner in Therapeutic Sandplay Skills. It covers all the competencies required to become a safe and effective practitioner with a balance of theory, and offers all essential personal development required as well as exploring the practical aspects. You are not thrown in at the deep end. The first five days of the course integrate theory and prepare you for practice by processing your own sandplay and observing others. Learn through supervised practice. You will then be able to bring back any problems that occur for discussion and advice during the second part of three days, which continues the experiential work. 

Programme Structure


It is vital that therapeutic sandplay practitioners have an embedded knowledge of the underlying theoretical principles.

The course includes material, based on the work of contemporary, as well as historical, theoreticians including, H G Wells, Margaret Lowenfield, Carl Jung, Dora Kalff, Erich Neumann, Martin Kalff, John Bowlby, Ruth Bowyer, Katherine Bradway, Erik Erikson, Melanie Klein, Barbara McCoard, Barbara Turner, Estelle Weinrib and D W Winnicott. The relationship of theory to sandplay is clearly explained.

Required Reading

A number of text books will be recommended. As a minimum the required reading is: The Handbook of Sandplay Therapy – Barbara A. Turner, PhD 

Experiential Work

Doing one's own therapeutic sandplay work is essential. The 8-day training course is in three parts: A one day Theory course preceding part two which is the 4 day experiential course. These 5 days, enable you to start practice. This is then followed by a further three days approximately a year later. (The course must be covered in two parts - 1 and 4 days, plus 3 days. Total 52 contact hrs.) You cannot do all eight days together.

These courses are facilitated by an experienced sandplay therapist and are held in therapeutically sensitive environments in the North and South of England as well as Dublin, Ireland.

In order to engage in the medium of sandplay with a client, the therapist must have experienced the movement of his or her psyche by the same means. We must know what we do about the symbolic process and the profound significance of being a witness to that work. The experience of one's own sandplay process is a critical part of the therapist's psychic participation in the process. To attempt to engage in sandplay with a client without having undergone one's own sandplay work would be a grievous act of unpreparedness. 


To complete the programme and to obtain the award, you will require 50 clinically supervised hours of practice with adults, adolescents or children, with an APAC approved supervisor. The Supervisors' reports are used as part of the assessment of students' progress. You will also need to complete a satisfactory process diary and submit evidence of good practice, showing that you are applying the competencies as taught on the course.  

Learning Objectives and Competencies

Successful participants will be able to:

Apply a knowledge of the history and development of sandplay Therapy.

Apply an understanding of the Jungian structure and dynamics of the psyche including: the concepts of the conscious, the unconscious, the ego in sandplay, the functions of sensation, thinking, feeling and intuition, the persona, the shadow, archetypes, individuation, differentiation, compensation, adaptation, the transcendent function and how to apply them.

Understand how symbols work to heal and transform and the importance of the attitude of the observer in providing the free and protected space.

Upon satisfactory completion of the programme you may apply to be placed on the PTI/PTUK register as a practitioner in Therapeutic Sandplay Skills.

Understanding the role of the therapist in the symbolic process and be able to use the knowledge in practice, engaging in the process of coming to understand the client.

Apply developmental theory to sandplay practice (main proponents listed under theory above).

Apply mythological considerations of development in sandplay.

Apply neurobiological considerations including: the brain's structure development, early limbic development, early affect regulation, hierarchical brain structure, patterns of affect regulation, the brain's drive to realize wholeness, symbolic process, the creation of human mind in relationship to sandplay.

Explore content themes in sandplay: figures, allegorical, traditional paradigms and sand as content.

Explore spatial themes in sandplay: vertical, horizontal, the centre, other spatial configurations and placement of the objects.

Explore motion themes: movement of figures, manner of construction, movement in psychic space, sprinkling, movement between two sand trays and interactive play.

Understand and apply the affective core of symbols and the dimensions of affect.

Understand the World Technique and other directive approaches whilst being aware of the differences to the Jungian approach.

Be able to use Subjective Immersion Analysis (SIA) Turner (2005) to deepen your understanding of the sandplay process.

Prepare for the practice of sandplay therapy: acquiring effective equipment; building a collection of objects; preparing the room; introducing the client to sandplay; explaining sandplay therapy to adults, parents and children; assessing client readiness; understanding client resistance; integration with other therapies.

Undertake good practice during the session: adopting an appropriate stance; record keeping; interacting with adult and child clients; taking into account the client's approach, demeanour and interactions.

Good practice after the sandplay session: client's completion of the sand tray; dealing with the client's desire to interpret; taking photographs of the sandplay; leaving sandplay intact; showing sandplay to parents; disassembling the sandplay; organizing and managing sandplay records.

Your Training Provider & Standards


The Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy (APAC) was established in 1999 and has become the world's most successful play and creative arts therapies training provider.

In 2012 over 600 practitioners are undertaking training with us in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia. The clinical work of our students is carefully measured showing that between 68% and 83% of their clients show a positive change.

No other play and creative arts therapies training have provided such evidence of success.

Our success is due to: 

  • The balance of theoretical, experiential and practical training
  • Learning objectives based on detailed competencies – it's what you can do - not just what you learn
  • Keeping to the highest quality standards through the continuous evaluation of our courses at four levels: how our trainees experience the training; what they have learnt; how their learning has been applied to practice and their clinical results
  • The skills and experience of our faculty of 12 Course Directors and specialist tutors (currently growing)
  • Our collaborative partnership with Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University who monitor and guide us upon the academic quality of our play therapy training at post graduate level


The APAC programme conforms to Play Therapy UK's and Play Therapy International's qualifying standards for Therapeutic Sandplay Practitioner training which are aligned to the sandplay profession's international standards.

The Practitioner in Therapeutic Sandplay Skills title is awarded to those who successfully complete the two stages of the programme and then practice within the scope of their existing professional qualifications, for example as a Counsellor and Sandplay Therapy Practitioner, Play Therapist and Sandplay Therapy Practitioner.

It can be seen from the table that the PTI/PTUK programme meets or exceeds Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) and other International standards

PTI/PTUK Standards
Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) Standards
Be accredited by and be a current member of a recognised professional organization such as PTUK, BACP, UKCP or BPS.
Training Requirements

Complete a sandplay process with a PTI/PTUK Certified Sandplay Therapist or Trainer (This is a part of APAC's experiential course.)

The APAC programme provides 52 hours of theoretical, experiential and practical training. 20 hours of individual sandplay supervision available separately. 

Minimum of 36 hours of education in sandplay with a CST-T or at a STA-sponsored conference, seminar, or workshop. Twelve of the 36 hours may be earned through field-tested, STA-approved on-line courses.

Individual sandplay consultation for a minimum of 15 hours, or in a combination of group and individual consultation sessions, for a total of 20 sessions. 

Practice hours

50 hours of supervised practice with at least 3 clients. PTI/PTUK believes that this is the most practical requirement because it recognizes the varying demand for therapeutic sandplay and the need to integrate it with other work. 

Work with a minimum of 3 clients or students per week, who engage with sandplay on a regular basis, for a minimum of 1 year. 


PTUK Conference 2018, Northern College, Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, Barnsley, S75 3ET


  • Theoretical Programme Only - £140 (plus £30.00 - Sandplay book)
  • Experiential Programme Only - £610 (4 Days)
  • Experiential Programme Only - £450 (Follow up 3 Days)
  • Membership of PTUK/PTI is required to attend this course


  • 14th June 2019 (1 day theory course)
  • 16th - 19th June 2019 (First 4 days experiential training)
  • 20th - 22nd June 2019 (Further 3 days for those who have completed the 4 days previously)

Application Form

A course application form is available to download in either MS Word or PDF format below: