This blog creates a space for for social workers and therapists to share their favorite interventions, resources, activities, etc. If we all share the wealth of knowledge and experience we have then all of our clients benefit.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Common Sand Tray Symbols
Here are a list of possible symbolism that certain miniatures may hold for children. I feel that my themes post is extremely helpful when looking at sand trays, but I don’t use this list as much. It is interesting to look at, especially if certain figures are used repeatedly, but I take these with a grain of salt. I was taught not to give my interpretations too much weight because it could possibly make me miss something the child is communicating. It’s not important to know what every piece represents so don’t obsess over this list too much, or ask the child to tell you what every figure means/represents in their lives (they probably wouldnt be able to tell you anyway)
AMERICAN FLAG: Symbol of identity and belonging. May be used as symbol of ego.
BABY: Frequently used as symbol of the young self (and fledgling ego)
BEAR: May symbolize instinctual wisdom or strength. Bears are fiercely protective of their young. May represent positive side of mother love.
BIRDS: Fly and often seen as carrying spirits
BRIDGE: Symbol of connection and integration. May indicate attempt to make connections between polarities or opposing aspects of individual.
BUTTERFLY: Symbol of rebirth and transformation
CASTLE: Often represents a place of safety
CAVE: Can suggest place of safety or unknown. May indicate digging into depths of unconscious. Considered a feminine symbol, often symbolizing Good Mother.
DINOSAUR: May symbolize unconscious rage
DIVER: Suggests venturing into depths of unconscious
DOLPHIN: Represents instinctual and guiding intelligence. Appears in myths and legends as saviors.
DOVE: Symbol of purity and innocence. White dove may also symbolize awakening spirit.
DRAGON: In fairy tales, is something overpowering to be overcome. Is often guardian of some treasure. May also be symbol of devouring feminine (Terrible Mother archetype).
EGG: May symbolize new beginnings
FENCES: Use may indicate efforts to bring some structure to life. May provide either protection or limits. Presence in trays may suggest either increasing ability to set boundaries or a felt need for control and restrictions in connection with instincts.
FIRE: May symbolize either destruction or cleansing. Often a symbol of sexual energies.
FLOWER: Often symbolizes transformation and rebirth
FROG: Is the ultimate animal of transformation. Changes from tadpole to frog to prince.
GIRAFFE: May symbolize attempt to “stay above it all” to avoid the turmoil going on below.
HOLY GRAIL: Quest for healing and spiritual nurturing. Feminine container of spirit.
HORSE: May represent helpful, guiding instincts. Bridging sea and sky, instinct and spirit, feminine and masculine.
JUNGLE ANIMAL: Expresses relationship to instincts and aggression (especially large predators).
KEY: Symbolizes unlocking something (hopeful future?/ traumas of past?).
LAMP: May signify new illumination of consciousness
MILITARY FIGURE: Common symbol of authority and conformity
MIRROR: Mirror provides reflection. May symbolize self-realization, truth or wisdom. May also represent impulse toward consciousness, reflecting back to individual what she/he has not yet seen.
MONSTER: Often symbolizes fears or out-of-control feelings and impulses.
OWL: May represent wisdom, protection or sometimes death.
PEACOCKS: Its glorious tail feathers may symbolize flowering of the personality. May represent all-inclusive kind of wisdom (because of many eyes on tail feathers).
PEGASUS: Winged horse born of severed snake-covered head of Medusa. May symbolize bringing unconscious to light or converting evil to good.
RAINBOW: Often represents transformation or bridge between spiritual and temporal.
ROAD (OR PATH): Suggests journey in progress
SEEDS: Universal feminine symbols of fertility and creative life
SHELLS: Frequently express relationship to feminine.
SIGNS: May indicate either containment or need for guidance and direction.
SPIDER: May represent Great Creator (who spins thread of life). May, also be symbol of devouring Terrible Mother (especially black widow).
STAR: Often connected with hope (since it shines in darkness).
SUN: Often symbolizes nurturing aspect of father.
TREES: Symbolize presence of growth and life.
TUNNEL: Can signify avenue to unconscious.
TURTLE: Is often symbol of abandonment. Mother turtle leaves and babies must make perilous journey back to sea alone. May also symbolize survival in hostile environment.
VEHICLES: Are most often symbols of mobility. May represent control power or escape. May symbolize energy available for movement and growth.
WATER: Is feminine symbol, signifying the unconscious or unknown.
WELL: May symbolize access to nourishment or energy being gathered from unconscious (water/depths)