Training Program

The Canadian Association for Sandplay Therapy

The CAST Sandplay Therapy training program has been designed to provide the 100 hours of theoretical training required for the certification process of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST), the certifying body for Sandplay as developed and taught by Dora Kalff. The program will also provide basic Sandplay training for experienced therapists who wish to integrate Sandplay into their existing practices without completing a certification process. Trainees will have experiences and gain theoretical knowledge which form a basis for understanding how to use Sandplay in therapeutic settings. It is important to note that CAST is not a regulatory body. Certification by CAST/ISST requires that any provincial regulations regarding the practice of psychotherapy are adhered to.

This two-year, 100-hour program consists of four or five weekend modules per year. Each module has experiential, theoretical, and clinical components. Each topic will be presented within the context of Sandplay, with at least 50 hours of case study material illustrating how a Sandplay process can be incorporated with, and relate to, a client's total therapy experience. The role of the therapist and containment of a therapeutic process will be addressed throughout. Training workshops will be led by instructors approved by ISST.
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Candidates for ISST certification must apply for acceptance into this process through CAST. or another national Sandplay organization. In addition to the 100 hours of theoretical training, certification requirements include a personal Sandplay process, supervision hours, two seminar papers, and a written case report as described in CAST. Guidelines for Training.

Workshop attendance and participation by people not currently planning to apply for ISST certification will be documented and will count for training hours should a future application to an ISST certification process be made.

Personal Sandplay Process:
One of the experiences that is considered essential for a Sandplay Therapist is the completion of a personal Sandplay process. The discoveries and insights that occur during this process should precede advanced studies in Sandplay. For this reason, it is expected that anyone attending part or all of the second-year program will have completed, or be well advanced in, a personal Sandplay process. Therefore, admission to second-year training may be based on a recommendation by the personal process therapist concerning readiness of the trainee to enter the more advanced section of the program.

Entry Qualifications

Canadian applicants for training will be considered by a CAST/ISST qualified teaching member, or by a committee of three ISST-certified CAST members. Candidates are expected to provide evidence of the following qualifications:

  • a university education in medicine, psychology, education, theology, clinical social work, marriage and family counselling, or expressive arts therapies, psychiatric nursing, or other related fields. Persons not having this type of university education but who can demonstrate an adequate combination of experience and educational background will also be considered by the accepting CAST/ISST teaching member or committee.
  • knowledge of psychopathology, psychodiagnosis and psychotherapy which, preferably, have been achieved by formal study and which have also included applied clinical experience with patients/clients;
  • evidence of having had some in-depth inner development and insight such as can be achieved in the experience of personal analysis or psychotherapy; and
  • licensure to practise psychotherapy in provinces and regions where licensure is required.

An exception may be made in the certification process in special circumstances.

Requirements for Certification

Aims of Training: To be recognized as a certified Sandplay Therapist by the Canadian Association for Sandplay Therapy (C.A.S.T.) and the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST), and to become eligible to apply for the status of a certified member in these associations.

1. Course of Training
(a) Personal Experience
In order to become a certified member of, and be recognized as a certified member by CAST/ISST, one has to have gone through a personal Sandplay process with a certified CAST/ISST member or a certified ISST member from another national organization that has been approved by CAST This process, which is fundamental and required, is expected to lead to an experiential knowledge of the particular possibilities of Sandplay Therapy and to facilitate development of one's own self-realization.
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Trying to state the minimum number of hours in which the personal process can occur is not appropriate. Rather, emphasis must be on the fullness or wholeness of the experience, as determined by the therapist and client in collaboration.
In order to safeguard the spontaneous nature implicit in a personal Sandplay process, such experience should precede a regular attendance at seminars/workshops on Sandplay Therapy. It is expected that one's personal Sandplay experience will precede one's use of Sandplay as a therapeutic technique with clients.

In the case of a dispute between the trainee and the personal process therapist about the completion of a Sandplay process, requests may be made to the CAST Teaching Members Committee by the trainee for consideration, arbitration, and/or guidance that may facilitate resolution of the matter.

(b) Theoretical Training
Seminars/Workshops/Conferences/Independent Study of an Approved Course. CAST requires 100 hours of attendance at seminars or workshops appropriate to training in Sandplay Therapy. Training hours may be accumulated in the following manner:
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  • completion of the CAST Training program consisting of ten modules that include theoretical, experiential, and clinical opportunities; or
  • at least 50 hours of a CAST-approved training program that has theoretical, clinical and experiential components and that covers content deemed necessary by CAST plus
  • 25 hours of didactic workshops presented by an ISST-certified teaching member and/or ISST member approved by a CAST teaching member, plus
  • 25 hours of participation in the presentation by a CAST-approved ISST teaching member, and discussion of Sandplay cases in a group led by a qualified CAST teaching member or a certified ISST member approved by a qualified CAST teaching member. Accumulation of theoretical hours in this manner is separate from group supervision hours as described in Section 1(d).

A maximum of ten hours of independent study approved by the CAST Board may replace ten didactic workshop hours.

(c) Written Theoretical Papers
As part of the training requirements, trainees will write two theoretical papers, using APA-style academic format. These papers, at least ten pages in length, will focus on aspects of Sandplay, including symbolism and Sandplay process.
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The trainee's primary supervisor/advisor, who is a qualified CAST/ISST teaching member, will clarify the details of requirements for symbol papers; and will read and approve the first paper. The second symbol paper has to be read and approved by a second reader who is a qualified CAST/ISST teaching member. ​A list of qualified supervisors and advisors is available from the CAST ​Administrative Assistant​, along with the certification package detailing the requirements. The applicant's personal process therapist will be excluded from the list of advisors/supervisors. A primary supervisor/advisor must be a qualified CAST teaching member. A supervisor may be a CAST-approved teaching member from another national organization.

(d) Supervision of Trainee Cases
A minimum of 100 hours of supervision by a CAST-approved ISST teaching member is required. These supervision hours will consist of case presentations and analysis of Sandplay processes, with the trainee bringing case material resulting from his or her clinical practice with clients in Sandplay Therapy.
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A minimum of 30 supervision hours of the required 100 hours must be completed with a qualified CAST teaching member who is designated as the trainee's primary supervisor and advisor. The other supervision hours may be completed with a CAST-approved, qualified ISST teaching member from another national organization.

At least 50 hours of this requirement must be comprised of individual supervision time. When one or two people attend with a supervisor, total number of hours of attendance will be counted as individual supervision time for both trainees.

This 50-hour requirement may also be partially fulfilled with three or four trainees attending with the supervisor. In this instance, the total length of time a trainee presents will count towards individual supervision hours; the remaining time will count as group supervision hours. For example, in a group of three, a total of three hours of presentation time by one of the three persons would count as three individual supervision hours for that person. The other two group members would accumulate three group supervision hours. When each of the three group members presents for one hour, each group member will acquire one individual and two group supervision hours. Allowance for individual supervision hours within a group of three or four In the above-described manner recognizes the presenting trainee's preparation and presentation efforts, as well as a trainee's high probability of learning and participation in a group supervision context, even when s/he is not presenting case material.

A list of authorized CAST supervisors and authorized supervisors from other national organizations may be obtained from the ISST website, where Teaching Members are designated by “TM” in their listing.

Trainees may fulfill a maximum of 10 hours of individual supervision with the qualified CAST teaching member who was that trainee’s personal process therapist. An exception is needed to have more than 10 hours of individual supervision with this person. Trainees may also have a maximum of 20 hours of supervision in a group context with the qualified CAST teaching member who was that trainee’s personal process therapist. An exception is required to exceed the total permitted amount of time (30 hours).

(e) Case Report
Completion of one's personal Sandplay process, all training hours and the two theoretical papers are required before a trainee can submit the final case report. Documentation of these aspects of the certification process will be made on the appropriate form that is included in the certification package.
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When the trainee's supervisor/advisor is satisfied that all training requirements have been fulfilled, a complete case may be submitted to one's supervisor. Consultation with other qualified ISST teaching members during the preparation of the case may be arranged. After the case has been deemed complete and acceptable by the supervisor, that supervisor, acting as advocate, will arrange for three qualified ISST members to read the case. At least one reader must be a qualified CAST teaching member and at least one must be from a foreign country.

Initial contact and any feedback from the readers about the case will be in the form of direct communication between the primary supervisor and the readers. Such communication will include the readers’ decisions that each has approved the trainee’s case, or that each has rejected the case as inadequate to fulfill CAST requirements. When the three readers have notified the supervisor of acceptance of the case (on the Case Readers’ Acceptance Form provided to them with the case), the supervisor will advise the CAST and ISST Secretaries of their decision.

A reader can choose to accept, conditionally accept, or reject a written case study. With decisions of conditional acceptance, the candidate is asked to make certain immediate revisions which, when approved by the reader(s), permits the candidate to obtain certified CAST status and, upon application by the candidate, to obtain certified ISST status. In the case of rejection, the readers may include recommendations for further hours of supervision/consultation that must be observed before a new case can be submitted. A maximum of three applications (initial and two reapplications) by any candidate will be considered.
In the case of a lack of consensus amongst the three readers about the acceptability of the case, the readers will consult with each other in order to attempt to reach agreement. If any reader is unable or unwilling to consult with the other committee members, or if the three readers are unable to reach a consensus, the majority decision will stand.

In the case of a dispute between a trainee and his/her supervisor about the completion and/or acceptability of the written case before presentation to the three readers, the trainee may submit a request to the CAST Board who, at their discretion, may consider, arbitrate, or guide in a manner that may facilitate resolution of the matter.

The case presentation, written in APA-style academic format, will be a minimum of 30 double-spaced pages in length, and a maximum of 50 pages, unless, for special circumstances, readers agree to read a longer paper. The case presentation will include photos of the presented Sandplay process in the text. All sandpictures in the process must be included, although not all must be analyzed. A set of slides, or digital photos on a disk, will be sent upon the request of the reader(s).

In order to protect the client's confidentiality, a signed statement from the therapist will verify that s/he holds written permission from the client regarding use of the case material and details about how the material can be used. This form will be included in the CAST Certification package.

2. Exception to Conditions of the Certification Process
Although an exception to the above-described conditions of the certification process may be made in exceptional circumstances, exceptions will not be made regarding the completion of a personal Sandplay process. An application for an exception will be submitted on a CAST Exceptions Form and submitted to the CAST Board for approval by two CAST teaching members.

3. Continuing Education
CAST/ISST members are expected to continue their education in Sandplay after becoming certified.

Program Outline

All CAST-approved training programs will include theoretical, experiential and clinical components. They will provide experiences and theoretical knowledge to enable trainees to form a basis for understanding how to use Sandplay in therapeutic settings. Presentation of case study material will illustrate how a Sandplay process can be incorporated with, and relate to, a client's total therapy experience. The role of the therapist and containment of a therapeutic process will be addressed in the training.

Specific content will include, but does not have to be limited to, the following themes:
  1. the historical development of Sandplay, with emphasis on play and Sandplay;
  2. developmental psychology and Sandplay;
  3. attachment issues with children and adults, with a focus on a sensory approach and Sandplay;
  4. archetypes and symbolic process in Sandplay;
  5. Jungian analytical psychology and Sandplay;
  6. specific archetypes, including the Mother, the Father, the Child, and the Self;
  7. fairy tales and myths and their relation to Sandplay; and
  8. transference/countertransference.

The following is an outline of the contents of a typical 100-hour CAST Sandplay Therapy Training course. The order of presentation of the topics might vary.

Typical Contents of Theoretical Training
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Module 1 - History and Development of Sandplay: Play and Sandplay
  • influences on Kalff
  • basic elements of Sandplay
  • creating a "world"
  • participating and observing/witnessing Sandplay
  • observation strategies
  • introduction to cultural considerations in Sandplay
  • first sand pictures

Modules 2 & 3 - Development and Sandplay
  • typical and atypical psychological development, esp. affect self-regulation and development of Self
  • development of ego-Self axis
  • attachment and attachment issues
  • developing the capacity for free-flowing play
  • development of human consciousness
  • cultural development
  • developmental stages observed in the sand
  • appearance of ordering elements in sand pictures
  • hands in the sand
  • verbal/non-verbal; silence/non-silence

Module 4 - Jungian Sandplay
  • elements of the psyche, according to Jung
  • the mindbody and Sandplay
  • how is Sandplay related to current neurobiological research findings?
  • distinguishing observations from interpretations
  • what part does story play?
  • Sandplay and other aspects of therapy
  • transference/countertransference in Sandplay
  • significance of location in the sandtray

Module 5 - Symbols and Symbolic Process in Sandplay
  • specific reference to eastern, western and aboriginal symbology
  • development of symbolic function
  • myths/fairytales/legends
  • one's personal myth/fairytale
  • cultural impact on such development
  • centering in the sandtray

Module 6 - The Mother Archetype/The Feminine and Sandplay
  • models from Jung et al, Kalff, Neumann
  • feminist criticism
  • contemporary models
  • relationship to zeitgeist
  • symbols/polarities/uniting the opposites
  • transference/countertransference issues

Module 7 - The Father Archetype/The Masculine and Sandplay
  • models from Jung, Neumann, Robt. Mooreet al, including Rise, Shaia
  • Sandplay and cultural attitudes/expectations

Module 8 - Child Archetype/The Self and Sandplay
  • mandalas and other Self symbols
  • constellation of the Self in Sandplay
  • current research about disorders and repair of the Self
  • The Secret Garden
  • a completed process in Sandplay
  • ending therapy with the client
  • guidelines for Sandplay therapist

Training Application

CAST Training Application

Click here for the Sandplay Training Application in English.

Pour le formulaire de demande de formation à la thérapie par le jeu de sable en français cliquer ici.