Thesis Title

A Survey of Sandplay Therapy Practices Among Licensed Psychotherapists

Graduation Date

Spring 2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington-Reader, PhD, ART-BC, MFT


There is discrepancy in the literature concerning best practices in sandplay therapy. Historically a Jungian based approach, sandplay therapy is also utilized by various clinicians of differing theoretical orientations. This research study investigated the current practices and opinions of licensed psychotherapists concerning sandplay therapy through an online survey. The survey consisted of 20 questions geared to understand how sandplay is utilized, as well as the theoretical orientation of those who engage their clients in sandplay, and what opinions about sandplay exist among psychotherapists who use and do not use the modality. The hypothesis was that therapists who use sandplay therapy are mostly of Jungian theoretical orientation and primarily use the technique with children. The results supported the hypothesis. Many other patterns were found within the survey data that encouraged potential questions for future surveys, including an in-depth look at gender roles related to using the technique and the connection of art therapy with sandplay therapy. Concluding remarks propose organizational shifts among the current field of sandplay therapy trademarked by the Sandplay Therapists of America.