Yellow Stream: Certificate in Sandplay with Special Populations using Play Therapy Skills and Techniques

yellow stream

2 waysTwo possible routes!

yellow stream   Play Therapist: CAPT Certification Route

CAPTCAPT Route:  For those seeking to become Certified by that Canadian Association for Play Therapy (CAPT), this is the recommended program to take in addition to the Green & Red Stream programs, to fulfill the requirement of 180 hours of play therapy training by CAPT. Registrants en route toward Certification by CAPT should first complete the Green Stream (or an equivalent), prior to taking this yellow stream program (Note: it may be taken prior to the Red Stream).

yellow stream   Special Interest & Advanced Practitioner

This certificate program can be taken as a stand-alone specialized training for Masters degree level mental health practitioners (or those in a Masters degree program) wishing to explore this play intervention/modality. Due to the focus on sandplay techniques, as applied to special population/referral issues, as well as a developmental approach (understanding developmental stages as represented in the sandtray), previous training in play therapy is recommended (such as completion of the Foundations of Play Therapy: Green Stream ).

The Certificate in Sandplay with Special Populations using Play Therapy Skills and Techniques program offers 26.50 hours of approved/certified training. It consists of 3 days of face-to-face training (21 contact hours) PLUS a pre-course on-line component (with a Mastery Test – 5.5 non-contact hours). Students will have three months to complete the required written case assignment.

This certificate program is part of RMPTI’s fully integrated training program continuum, as it builds on the integrative approach to play therapy introduced in the Green Stream, with an emphasis on theory, techniques and applications to special populations.

Taking a developmental approach (understanding developmental stages as represented in the sandtray), the program focuses on sandplay techniques as applied to special population/referral issues (e.g., children of divorce, traumatized clients, giftedness, anxiety/phobias, depression, etc.). Participants will have the opportunity to engage in experiential sandplay activities that range from interactive to static use of the sandtray and will be exposed to various theoretical orientations of sandplay.

Program Goals

The primary goals of this program are to deepen participants’ understanding and experience with using symbols and metaphors in sandplay, expand inquiry skills, and abilities to track the sandplay process. The program also strengthens participants’ substantive knowledge base of special population/referral issues, including:

• Trauma / Medical traumas/Complex grief & loass
• Anxiety/Phobias
• Bullying
• Eating disorders
• Giftedness
• Working with families
• Working with twins

Cost: $1260.00 + GST

For full details please refer to the application form. To access program dates see the training calendar.
Cancellation policy

Who Should Attend?

It is recommended that students enrolled in the CAPT Route of Certification take this program after completing the Green Stream. Like other Yellow Stream programs, this program is designed for Masters degree level (or currently enrolled in a Masters degree program) mental health practitioners who wish to add to their play therapy training resume.

Entrance Requirements
Attending or completed graduate mental health degree program. Completion of the Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills (Green Stream) – or equivalent.

Required Readings
Carey, L. (1999). Sandplay Therapy with Children and Families. New Jersey: Book-mart Press.

Recommended Readings:

Day 1

Altvater, R. A., Singer, R. R., & Gil, E. (2017). Part 1: Modern trends in the playroom—preferences and interactions with tradition and innovation. International Journal of Play Therapy, 26(4), 239-249.

Balfor, R. (2013). Sandplay therapy: From alchemy to neuroscience. Journal of Sandplay Therapy. 22 (1): 101-113.

Carey, L. J. (1999). Sandplay therapy with children and families. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson Publishers, Inc.

Chiaia, M. E. (1998). Losing and finding: One child’s experience of mourning. Journal of Sandplay Therapy, 10, 19-41.

Cohn, D.P. (2000).  Gender differences among children during the struggle stage of sand tray therapy.  Dissertation Abstracts International, 61(5-B), 2749.

Doyle, K. & Magor-Blatch L. E., (2017). “Even adults need to play”: Sandplay therapy with an adult survivor of childhood abuse. International Journal of Play Therapy, 26, 1, 12-22.

Edinger, E.F. (1972).  Ego & archetype: Individuation and the religious function of the psyche.  Boston: Shambhala.

Green, E. J., & Connolly, M. E. (2009). Jungian family sandplay with bereaved children: Implications for play therapists. International Journal of Play Therapy, 18(2), 84-98.

Jung, C.G. (1980).  The archetypes and the collective unconscious.  (R.C.F. Hull, Trans.).  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.  (Original work published 1959)

Lumry, G.K. (1951).  A study of world test characteristics as a basis for discrimination between various clinical categories.  The Journal of Child Psychiatry, 2.  24-35.

Perry, B.D. (2002).  Childhood experience and the expression of genetic potential: What childhood neglect tells us about nature and nurture.  Brain and Mind, 3, 79-100.

Ray, D. C., Purswell, K., Haas, S., & Aldrete, C. (2017). Child-Centered Play Therapy-Research Integrity Checklist: Development, reliability, and use. International Journal of Play Therapy, 26(4), 207-217.

Swank, J. M., & Smith-Adcock, S. (2018). On-task behavior of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Examining treatment effectiveness of play therapy interventions. International Journal of Play Therapy, 27(4), 187-197.

Day 2

Green, E. J., Myrick, A. C., & Crenshaw, D. A. (2013). Toward secure attachment in adolescent relational development: Advancements from sandplay and expressive play-based interventions. International Journal of Play Therapy, 22(2), 90-102.

Plotts, C., Lasser, J., & Prater, S. (2008). Exploring sandplay therapy: Application to individuals with traumatic brain injury. International Journal of Play Therapy, 17(2), 138-153.

Gallerani, T., & Dybicz, P. (2011). Postmodern sandplay: An introduction for play therapists. International Journal of Play Therapy, 20(3), 165-177.

Green, E. J., & Myrick, A. C. (2014). Treating complex trauma in adolescents: A phase-based, integrative approach for playtherapists. International Journal of Play Therapy, 23(3), 131-145.

Tal, R., & Tal, K. (2017). Child-parent relationship therapy—A dialogue with Winnicott’s theory. International Journal of PlayTherapy, 26(3), 151-159.

Aronson, S. (2012). Review of Starting treatment with children and adolescents: A process-oriented guide for therapists. [Review of the book Starting Treatment With Children and Adolescents: A Process Oriented Guide for Therapists. S. Tuber & J. Caflisch]. Psychotherapy, 49(2), 271-272.

Altvater, R. A., Singer, R. R., & Gil, E. (2018). Part 2: A qualitative examination of play therapy and technology training and ethics. International Journal of Play Therapy, 27(1), 46-55.

Zheng, L., & Gan, Y. (2018). Influence of early family cohesion on future orientation: Moderating role of a polymorphism in the FKBP5 gene. Journal of Individual Differences, 39(3), 166-173.

Perryman, K. L., Moss, R. C., & Anderson, L. (2016). Sandtray supervision: An integrated model for play therapy supervision. International Journal of Play Therapy, 25(4), 186-196.

Day 3

Doyle, K. & Magor-Blatch L. E., (2017). “Even adults need to play”: Sandplay therapy with an adult survivor of childhood abuse. International Journal of Play Therapy, 26, 1, 12-22.

Gardner, K. & Yasenik, L (2008). “When approaches collide: A decision-making model for Play Therapists.” In Drewes. A., & Mullen, J.A. (eds.) Supervision can be Playful: Techniques for Child & Play Therapy Supervisors (Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).

Homeyer, L. E., & Sweeney, D. S. (2017). Sandtray therapy: A practical manual (3rd ed). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kalff, D. M. (1991). “Introduction to sandplay therapy.”  Journal of Sandplay Therapy, 1, 1-4.

Labovitz, B., & Goodwin, E. A. (1999). Sandplay therapy: A step by step manual for psychotherapy of diverse orientation. New York, NY: Norton.

Lyles, M., & Homeyer, L. E. (2015). The use of sandtray therapy with adoptive families. Adoption Quarterly, 18, 67‑80.

Nasab, H.M., & Alipour, Z. M. (2015). “The effectiveness of sandplay therapy reducing symptoms of separation anxiety in children 5 to 7 years old.”  Journal of Educational Sciences & Psychology, 5, 47-53.

Stark, M.D., Frels, R. K. (2014). “Using sandtray as a collaborative assessment tool for counselor development.”  Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 9, 468-482.

Suri, R. (2012). “Sandplay: An adjunctive therapy to working with dementia.”  International Journal of Play Therapy, 21, 117-130.

Turner, B. A. (2005). The handbook of sandplay therapy. Cloverdale California: Temenos Press.

Program Outline

On-Line Program:

Historical & theoretical constructs

  • Development of the Ego & Psyche
  • Symbolization process
  • Archetypes
  • Conscious processing
  • Transcedent function
  • Progression & regression
  • Stages of development (e.g., R. Bowyer)
  • Compensation & Adaptation
  • Cased study
  • Personal exercises

Day 1

During Day 1 participants will explore theory and practice issues and begin to identify ways to understand and interpret the therapeutic use of sand and sandplay. The day will focus on entering the process personally, inviting a client to enter the process and observing, tracking and recording while remaining aware of the context of the presenting issues.  The importance of self-reflection and “use of self” will be emphasized.

  • What is Sandplay?
  • Theoretical applications
  • Metaphors and Symbols – universality and uniqueness
  • Personal Exercises
  • Use of mapping
  • Non-directive sandplay
  • Personal process journals

Day 2

During Day 2, participants will explore developmental differences when working in sandplay and study two different age bands 4-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds. This day will focus on conceptualization and how to understand the use of  sandplay when working with special issues such as high conflict divorce, child abuse and loss. Participants will review the role of the therapist and compare and contrast moving versus static sandtray examples. Practice opportunities using story stems and other directive activities will be provided. Those in attendance will follow a few case studies where levels of consciousness and directiveness and degree of interpretation will be discussed.

  • Use of sandplay with children 4-7 year
  • Typical interventions with younger children and reasons for us
  • Identifying re-enactments and trauma fragments
  • Experiential exercise: moving sandplay
  • Video examples and slides
  • The directiveness continuum / Case conceptualization
  • Reflecting and intervening – roles of the sandplay therapist
  • Use of sandplay with children 8-11
  • Case examples and slide presentation
  • Practice using: sand stories and story stems
  • Tracking developmentally significant issues
  • “Moving” and/or interactive sandplay with specific populations – i.e., children of divorce,
    traumatized children
  • Consciousness dimension and use of interpretations

Day 3

During Day 3, participants will study the use of sandplay with adolescents (which leads into adult work). Parent involvement and parent feedback will be considered. When to include a parent or family will be discussed. A case example that spans the 8-11 year old group and inclusion of a parent will be demonstrated. Participants will practice inquiry skills and have chances to practice in dyads. Special topics will be discussed such as working with eating disorders and phobias. Participants will study special ethics and practice guidelines when working in sandplay.

  • Warm-up exercise
  • Case conceptualization and planning
  • Sandplay with adolescents
  • Special issues and considerations
  • Case example
  • Experiential non-directive exercise
  • Enquiry and tracking with adolescents
  • Parent involvement – How to provide parent feedback
  • Special considerations when working with families or dyads
  • Ethics and practice guidelines when using sandplay

Learning Objectives

To provide an overview of the use of sandplay in various counselling settings, with special populations, and to provide participants with experiential learning opportunities

Upon successful completion of the course each participant will be able to:

  • Explain the history and theoretical perspective guiding sandplay in the play therapy setting
  • Describe the sandplay process & stages of sandplay in play therapy
  • Design sandplay activities with a variety of presenting problems/populations in play therapy
  • Demonstrate an understanding when working with symbols and metaphors in sandplay with children in play therapy
  • Describe how to working with various ages and stages of development when working in sand in play therapy
  • Describe ethics and guidelines related to sandplay in play therapy
  • Describe working with sandplay and families in play therapy
  • Demonstrate ways to provide feedback to parents and third parties in the play therapy process
  • Discuss when to be directive or non-directive in sandplay in play therapy
  • Demonstrate increased skills in inquiry and tracking when using sandplay in play therapy
  • Demonstrate use of tracking/recording tools in sandplay during play therapy
  • Describe use of self & the holding process in sandplay work in the play therapy setting


  • Experiential activities
  • Videos & case examples
  • Reading assignments
  • Written case conceptualization assignment


Participants will receive a Certificate in Sandplay with Special Populations from Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute. This certificate confirms the completion of 26.5 hours (21 direct contact hours) of specialized play therapy training approved by APT and CAPT.

Training hours can be used toward certification as Play Therapist.

NOTE: APT and CAPT alone hold the right to accept or deny any continuing education training at their discretion.

The certificate will be awarded based on:

• Satisfactory attendance (no whole module may be missed unless there are extenuating circumstances. A makeup assignment may be requested depending on time missed).
• Satisfactory completion of a written case conceptualization assignment.