Sandtray Therapy 101

filley imageI recently attended a wonderful 2-day sandtray workshop with Denise Filley at Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults in Marietta, GA. I have been using sandtray work with my clients since I began this journey of becoming a play therapist, this was the most comprehensive training on sandtray work that I have attended. We covered a range of topics including materials, history of sandtray therapy, and also different perspectives of using the sandtray.

This workshop was highly experiential, including practicing with a partner, group activities, and also individual sandtrays.My favorite part of the training was a partner activity where we did mutual story telling in the sandtray. I had the privilege of practicing that activity with a co-worker, and we took turns picking a figure and adding a story line. I found that after this weekend workshop, we created about 6-7 different types of sandtrays, and I stayed with the same partner throughout the training. At the end of the training we had a larger group tray with about 4-5 different members. We all took turns adding figures until we thought the tray was finished. I found it to be very process oriented, and by the end of the training felt more relaxed and had relieved some stress that I had been experiencing at the time, in addition to feeling like I build some positive relationships with other therapists.

The staff at Marietta Counseling showed professionalism and also hospitality by providing breakfast in the morning, snacks and beverages throughout the training, answering questions, encouraging networking, and also the time they spent setting up all of the sandtray figures!

After this training I felt prepared to go back to work and utilize the techniques we learned right away. I look forward to practicing and increasing my experience using sandtray therapy. I hope to attend future trainings led by Denise Filley, as well as held at Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults.


Denise Filley’s Workshop Schedule

Information about Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults

Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions


lowenstein_2006I am always looking for free or low cost resources, as I am a therapist on a budget (and I am sure there are many of you out there like me!). With so much info on the web it’s hard to narrow down what’s good, what’s not, and how I can find the resources I need for my clients without spending a fortune. That’s why I am soooo glad that I was sent this free copy of Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions, Edited By Liana Lowenstein, MSW, RSW, CPT-S.

This ebook is a compilation of over 100 pages of techniques submitted by multiple therapists. It is divided in to different sections: 1. Engagement and Assessment Interventions, 2. Treatment Interventions, and 3. Termination Interventions. Each intervention lists goals of the intervention, materials, advanced preparation, and detailed instructions. As I read through some of the descriptions, I found them easy to follow and detailed enough that I felt that I could easily follow the intervention. The list of contributors includes 35 different therapists, many of which are authors/presenters themselves. The best part is, that the interventions come from various treatment models, including family, sandtray, and more directive, and also integrative models. I love this, as I pull from various theories myself, and therapists from different backgrounds will all be able to glean from this book due to the wide range of ideas. I recommend this book to any child/adolescent/family therapist looking for creative ideas for their clients, as it is FREE!!! and FULL of creative interventions. What do you have to lose? I will be using this resource for a long time, and can’t wait to try some of the ideas with my clients.


Liana Lowenstein is a presenter and also author of multiple books including:

1. Paper Dolls & Paper Airplanes: Therapeutic Exercises for Sexually Traumatized Children (with Crisci & Lay)

2. Creative Interventions for Troubled Children & Youth

3. Creative Interventions for Children of Divorce.

4. Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children.

5. NEWEST PUBLICATION: Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play, Art, and Expressive Activities to Engage Children in Family Sessions


She has edited: Volumes One and Two of Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques, and will be launching Volume Three this year.


To sign up for the free ebook, visit Liana Lowenstein’s website and sign up for her free monthly newsletter. You can also view her upcoming workshops.

“Am I Bad?”


Fr Heyward Ewart is the Bishop, Diocese of The Risen Lord, Holy Catholic Charismatic Church, President/Academic Dean, St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, and Professor, American Association of Christian Therapists and Institute of Theology and Christian Therapy: May, 2009 to present

He practices in private counseling ministry from 1981 to present


He has a record of presenting and writing on topics related to child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and substance abuse issues.

His latest book, “Am I Bad,” Is a book outlining various concepts about abuse and trauma.

Give a brief synopsis of your book.

The book postulates that victims of child abuse are destined to be victimized their whole lives. The reason is that abuse, being the strongest form of communication, alters the personality so that the child grows up with a “less than” mentality and a warped image of himself (or herself). Graphic case histories illustrate this point, and a new model of personality development is presented.

Tell me about your inspiration for this book.

My own brutalization as a child plus my experiences as a professional psychotherapist made clear the need for such a work. I have seen that the majority of so-called “mental patients” are abused people trying to adjust. They are reacting to mistreatment. But there is no normal way to react to craziness.

Who will benefit from “Am I Bad?”

The book is intended to set victims free by helping them understand the truth about how they formed their false self image. It is also meant for professionals to help them see how child abuse rapes the soul and to suggest ways to treat the devastation suffered by victims.

What other writing projects are you currently working on?

I write regularly for, and have contributed 41 articles thus far. The subject matter includes articles on child and domestic abuse plus spiritual issues.

What other works have you written?

On the Rock: A Defense of the Catholic Faith (with Vincent A. Capozzi)

A Carnation A Day: A Pro-Life Doctor’s Story

Contributor to Dean Tong’s Elusive Innocence

(The first two are out of print.)

How did you begin writing?

I was an English major as an undergraduate. As a young man, I would read the poetry of Wordsworth, Keats, or Shakespeare, and they would bring me to tears. Writing is an art that has the power to stir the soul. This same art form is perhaps the best way to convict readers in the truth.

Tell about your counseling practice.

I have been a Catholic psychotherapist for nearly 30 years, beginning in Philadelphia. I noticed at the very start of my private practice that I was always treating the “wrong” patient. The family member who shows up for therapy is the one taking the wrap for the dysfunction of the whole family. In time, I realized that nearly all of my patients had been abused in some way and had formed a mangled view of themselves. They had no idea of who they really were or what they might be called to be. This experience led me to the concept of the “adopted self”; that is, the construct formed by other people’s opinions and then the experimentation of adolescence.

Tell about your background as a priest, how do you think it influences your work?

A priest must be in contact with the Ultimate Truth on a daily basis. Knowing that only the truth can set people free from mental bondage demands that I speak and write the truth. I can be very patient with people who are undereducated or uneducated but I have no time for those who refuse to learn or who recklessly disregard the truth.

How do you integrate your faith into your work?

I begin each day with the prayer that I will not be permitted to minister to anyone without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I maintain that no one can understand the soul (mind)of another human being without the direct help of the Holy Spirit. Giving a person a psychological test is like trying to measure the universe with a ruler.

Sam Feels Better Now! To Be Released!


My most current project is a children’s book titled “Sam Feels Better Now!: An Interactive Story for Children” Illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier, publisher is Loving Healing Press.

About the Story

“Sam Feels Better Now!: An Interactive Story for Children” incorporates elements of trauma therapy, as well as play and expressive therapies to assist children in working through crisis situations, traumatic events, and grief by helping the character, Sam learn ways to cope after his own difficult situation.