Bridging the Gap: Using Sandtray for Non-Secular Counseling Issues in Secular Settings
Marta Garrett

Not all clients with religiously or spiritually-based counseling issues seek counseling in non-secular counseling settings (Worthington, Kurusu, McCullough, & Sandage, 1996). An early review of the literature in this area has suggested that when therapists feel uncomfortable with religious issues they may consciously or unconsciously avoid addressing these issues in counseling (e.g., Presley, 1992).This article describes the unique characteristics of the sandtray as an expressive arts intervention that can be used with clients of all ages and makes the case that sandtray work is a suitable intervention choice to bridge the gap of addressing non-secular issues in a secular counseling setting. Sandtray work provides therapeutic flexibility through symbolic possibilities and adds a kinesthetic element that makes it a good fit for non-secular counseling issues that can often be abstract and difficult to fully describe verbally (Genia, 1991). Using the sandtray to address religious issues that may arise in a secular counseling setting can provide a platform for the client to fully express him or herself through a medium that allows the trained sandtray counselor to operate without fear of overstepping the boundaries of the therapist’s professional competence.

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