Qualitative outcomes of Humanistic Sandtray Therapy training: Counselors' personal and professional experience



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The purpose of this transcendental-phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of counselors who received certification in Humanistic Sandtray training from the Sandtray Therapy Institute. Specifically, the researchers hoped to better understand meaningful changes regarding participants’ personal and professional development from the advanced sandtray therapy training. There is limited research that examines the qualitative outcomes of counselors who seek advanced training in sandtray therapy to meet their personal and professional development needs. Eight licensed professional counselors who had completed the training requirements to earn the certification of a Humanistic Sandtray Therapist completed a demographic questionnaire and semi-structured interview which were transcribed and analyzed for themes.
Results of the thematic analysis yielded two major constructs: (a) professional development and (b) sandtray therapy; eight superordinate themes: (c) professional identity, (d) integration of Humanistic Counseling and emphasis on the relationship, (e) importance of mentorship and the presence of parallel processing, (f) influence of professional development on personal development, (g) sandtray training and aspects of the training, (h) the sandtray therapy process, (i) sandtray therapy processing, and (j) utility and application of sandtray therapy in various settings; as well as three subordinate themes: (k) practicality of the training, (l) style of the training, and (m) theoretical integration. Results from my study suggest that HST training was a validating personal and professional growth experience for counselors.
Implications include integrating sandtray therapy and other expressive arts experiences into counselor education curriculums. The researchers encourage credentialing bodies, counselor education programs, and continuing education providers to offer more advanced trainings focused on creative and experiential approaches to assist counselors to not only meet their continuing education requirements, but also revitalize their practice and protect against burnout and stagnation. Additionally, we encourage counselors to engage in personal sandtray work to improve clinical skills, personal growth to foster continued wellness, and counselor sustainability.



Sandtray therapy, Counselor development, Humanistic counseling, Professional development, Personal development