Using Sand Tray to Process Grief in Play Therapy

 Registration is closed for this event
Due to COVID-19 health concerns, this one-time online event has been approved by APT for 3 CONTACT CE Hours









Children often lack the vocabulary to express complex emotions and thoughts related to grief and loss. Even with their larger vocabularies, adults also can have a hard time putting their grief into words. Play therapy offers tools for children and adults to express and process the various feelings they have in response to grieving death and other losses, many of which might be ambiguous. Ambiguous loss is often even harder to pinpoint and describe, as the object of loss may fall into a gray area. Such losses might include those related to a loved one suffering mental decline or, as many of us are experiencing now, losses related to restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

This three-hour workshop on using sand tray to process grief in play therapy adapts the "Saying Good-bye" double-chair technique described by Bob and Mary Goudling in their book "Changing Lives through Redecision Therapy" (1979) to working with sand tray in play therapy. This process serves as a template for processing grief in a variety of situations. It is a practical tool to help with many therapy situations since so much of therapy has to do with processing losses in one form or another. 

The double-chair technique is also adaptable with other play therapy techniques such as drawing, storytelling, and puppetry. Additionally, it is useful as a double-chair technique with teenagers and adults. 

Needs Assessment: This workshop is being offered to increase knowledge, skills, and competencies in work with grief. This workshop is being considered at this time because of the increased experiences of grief and especially ambiguous grief related to responses to COVID-19. This workshop is also being offered because cultural differences related to grief will be addressed specifically and inter-woven throughout the workshop in order to increase awareness of the impacts of social injustices on mental health, especially that of children from diverse backgrounds. 

Learning Objectives

  • List three multicultural aspects of grief that may emerge during play therapy 
  • Discuss how the use of sand tray can help with processing grief in play therapy 
  • Describe two developmental axes that shape the processing of grief in play therapy 

Faculty: Emily Keller, Ph.D., LCMHC-S, RPT-S
Dates: February 12, 2021, Friday
Times: 9 AM - 12 PM Pacific Time [12-3 PM Eastern Time]
Tuition: $60 (If registered by January 29, 2021; $75 After)
Level: Begining & Intermediate
Participants: Mental Health Professionals
Contact Hours RPT: 3

Due to COVID-19 health concerns, this one-time online event has been
approved by APT for 3 CONTACT CE Hours


15 Minutes -- Overview of processing grief in play therapy

15 Minutes -- Multicultural aspects of grief

15 Minutes -- Introduction to ambiguous grief and loss

15 Minutes -- Benefits of using sand tray in play therapy to make meaning and process grief 

30 Minutes -- Demonstration of Saying Good-bye technique adapted to sand tray

30 Minutes -- Processing of demonstration, followed by an experiential exercise for group participants

30 Minutes -- Group practice

15 Minutes -- Processing and question/answer time

15 Minutes -- Adapting the process for younger children

Reference List:

Crosby, J. Y. (2019). Helping Children Cope with Grief and Loss.

Eberts, S., & Homeyer, L. (2015). Processing sand trays from two theoretical perspectives: Gestalt and Adlerian. International Journal of Play Therapy24(3), 134.

Goulding, M. M., & Goulding, R. L. (1997). Changing lives through redecision therapy. Grove Press.

Taggart, R. R. (2016). Madeline De Little, Where Words Can’t Reach: Neuroscience and the Satir Model in the Sand Tray. Reviewed by. Satir International Journal4(1), 114-116.

Turner, R. (2020). Playing through the unimaginable: Play therapy for traumatic loss. International Journal of Play Therapy29(2), 96.

Turner, R. (2019). Play-based bereavement centers for children and families. In Developing and Sustaining Play Therapy Clinics (pp. 247-275). IGI Global.

Cancellation Policy: Refunds minus the nonrefundable deposit ($50 when applicable) will be granted for cancellations made at least 7 days before the start of the workshop. We do not grant refunds for cancellations made seven days prior to the start of the workshop.

We reserve the right to cancel any workshop up to 30 days before its scheduled start date. If a workshop is canceled in under 30 days due to unforeseen circumstances (weather, health emergency, natural disaster, etc.), registrants are entitled to reschedule for a future training course.

We are not responsible for any expenses incurred by registrants if a training course is canceled.

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Bio: Dr. Keller is a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and mom to four boys. She integrates what she has learned professionally and experienced personally into this series of one-hour workshops for parents. This will be an interactive, fun experience. Dr. Keller leverages her training in couples therapy, family therapy, play therapy, sand tray therapy, relational-cultural theory, redecision therapy, and social justice into an integrative workshop experience that offers warmth and depth for participants. She is passionate about changing societies at the family level, and believes that everyone benefits when we access and support our authentic self. 

Dr. Keller and her husband of 20 years live in Livermore, CA, where they care for their four boys.

February 12th, 2021 9:00 AM through 12:00 PM
P.O. Box 2146
Livermore, CA 94551-2146
United States
Phone: 2109122805
Event Fee(s)
Registration Fee $ 90.00

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