In the blog posts (11.13.16, 11.17.16, 12.5.16), I presented information regarding Telling The Story through art, dance, and costume. Following is an explanation about how that information relates to sandplay. As therapists, we view trays using established theory, information on myths and symbols, and our knowledge of the individual client. Additional resources include research and information provided by practicing sandplay therapists through publications or presentations at workshops and conferences. Tribal art and mask-making, dance, and costume offer related information about varied aspects of the human experience which enrich our understanding of the many ways of telling the story.
Archetypal images inscribed in rock, painted on bark, or used as body adornmant tell the story through pictures and symbols. Designs on masks used in ceremonial dance and ritual are specific to each tribe and culture. When clients draw archetypal designs in the sand or arrange items in spirals, circles, oval, etc., I wonder what they are saying". What are these designs expressing? Knowledge regarding the symbolism of these types of designs and placement of items in a tray adds to my understanding of the client’s story.
Just at the dancer and the observer are participating in exchange of information, client and therapist also engage in an exchange during sandplay. The dancer uses body art, make up, and costume to tell a myth or story related to the tribe or culture. The observer understands the story through costume color and adornment and through the steps and poses of the dancer. The process is one of becoming familiar with the meaning of the costume and dance, which results in understanding and in appreciation of the story. Therapists are in the position of the observer; noticing the use of miniatures, their symbolic meaning, and how this all comes together to understand the story the client is telling. As the client, through the use of sandplay, tells their story, additional information from a wide variety of resources enhances understanding and provides depth and dimension for the observer/therapist.