The use of sand tray techniques by school counsellors to assist children with emotional and behavioural problems

Sonja Dorothea Richards, Jace Pillay, Elzette Fritz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the question of how school counsellors experienced the use of sand tray techniques in assisting children with emotional and behavioural problems at a primary school in Gauteng, South Africa. A phenomenological research design was used to investigate and document the experiences of 12 school counsellors that were using sand tray techniques with 37 primary school children between the ages of 6 and 14. years, with emotional and behavioural problems. The data was collected by means of 23 individual interviews, a focus group interview and 34 observation sessions. The findings identified several factors that influenced the responses of the school counsellors to these techniques. These included the sand trays themselves, the sand tray symbols, certain administrative aspects, the diversity of emotional problems encountered, the differing therapeutic approaches utilized by the counsellors, the cultural orientation and socioeconomic status of the children, and counsellors, language barriers, and an understanding of the stages of the sand tray process. What stood out in the research was the need for training in using sand tray techniques in a counselling context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-373
Number of pages7
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Behavioural problems
  • Children
  • Emotional problems
  • Phenomenological research
  • Sand tray
  • School counsellors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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