Staff Trainings, Retreats and Case Consults
with Dee Preston-Dillon, M.A., Ph.D.

Clinical Staff Training

Staff training consists of workshops to introduce clinicians to theory, ethics, and process in the use of Sand Therapy.

Format: Staff training may be in a series of workshops which can be half-day over several months, or a series of full-day sessions. Training always entails participants creating sand scenes and processing each scene to demonstrate ways to engage with clients.

Staff training can be in small group format, such as 4 to 6 clinicians – the value of small group is the more intensive, individualized feedback.

A one-day workshop can show clinicians the power, challenges, and limits of using symbols and sand. However, one day is not sufficient to become competent in the use of this projective process. Similar to art therapy, building knowledge and competencies takes a commitment of time.

Training always entails creating sand scenes. With a small group there is time for individualized training tips. Presentation to a large group is an opportunity to introduce Sand Therapy and demonstrate different ways to process. A large group does not give participants the opportunity to process their own sand scenes, however, it does allow for several demonstrations with volunteers and learn about core ideas.

Because of my background in other approaches, I integrate variations of gestalt, therapeutic metaphor, Jungian perspectives, and developmental approaches for clients across the life span.

Privacy is especially important when processing sand scenes with colleagues who work together. Experiential work will explore concerns for clients and how to process a sand scene.

Staff training has benefitted pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Unlike teaching talk therapies, teaching Sand Therapy entails an experiential component. Of special importance is a mindfulness of culture and the impact of symbols on the clinician. We practice witnessing and protecting depth work. Sand Therapy requires a keen awareness of mind-body-object connections, one’s projections, and how to mine the richness of the experience. The training environment is considered in how it will protect and contain clinician participation.

My Brandywine Studio has all the sand trays and several rooms of figures to give your staff a full experience in the use of symbols. The symbol collection is a library I curate to teach symbol categories and meanings associated with specific figures. My studio has the space to support 8 to 10 clinicians.

When you request a presentation to a group larger than 10, no matter the size, I would arrange to introduce your staff to Sand Therapy at your setting.

My emphasis is always on the integrity for use of sand and symbols as a therapeutic process. There are dangers with a projective technique when clinicians are not aware of countertransference and the depth of process that brings up trauma, deep grief, and existential concerns. My intention is to give your clinical staff quality, rigorous training in Sand Therapy.


The Brandywine Studio for Sand Therapy
13507 Brandywine Rd.
Brandywine, MD 20613
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Retreats are meant to enrich and rejuvenate. They are one-or two-day sessions for small groups. For example, participants might arrive Friday or Saturday afternoon, engage into the evening, break for sleep, and return to continue the rejuvenation and connections. Or the retreat may be a day or part of a day.

Participants create sand scenes that reflect the theme chosen by the group. For example, the group may be related as family, or more often in a specific profession — teachers, nurses, athletes, artists, allied health professionals. The group theme might be a celebration of a person or situation, or a release of some aspect of life, or a special time to rejuvenate. Time is dedicated to creating sand scenes, sharing each story, validating all participants. There is often time for quiet journal writing, meditation, explorations among participants to enhance their connection.

During retreats I provide an organic meal. Participants organize the time and day and any special arrangements they want included.

The Brandywine Studio for Sand Therapy
13507 Brandywine Rd.
Brandywine, MD 20613

I look forward to working with you to design a retreat that supports your goals and nurture your group. Regards, Dr.Dee

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Individual Case Consultation
Consultations are set by appointment. An individual consult runs between 90 minutes to two hours.

The Brandywine Studio for Sand Therapy
13507 Brandywine Rd.
Brandywine, MD 20613

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Small Group Case Consultation
Small group consults are limited to 3 to 4 clinicians. These are often 2 to 3-hour sessions.

Consult as Process
I view the purpose of case consultation as a creative way to tap into a therapist’s creativity and imagination, to stretch beyond constraints of traditional case consultation. Together we unpack areas of concern for the therapist, reconceptualize the client-clinician relationship and explore case challenges in order to benefit both clinician and client. Consults always entail the use of a sand scene. Because of my background in other approaches, when asked, I offer suggestions for other techniques to work with clients. For example, I have used variations of gestalt, therapeutic metaphor, Jungian perspectives, and developmental approaches without sand scenes that still make use of small objects.

Often clinicians recreate a client’s sand scene, or create a sand scene reflecting their own experience working with a particular client. Consult sessions can be rich in countertransference insights, explore ways to grasp client concerns, practice attending to layers of meaning in a sand scene, and discern cultural factors that may influence the clinical process — sometimes unseen behind treatment goals. Countertransference is viewed in a positive light, as a rich source for developing skills to enhance clinician-client engagement. Exploration of a sand scene increases clinician ability to resonate with empathy, maintain non-invasive safe boundaries, and understand how trauma, culture, identity, attachment, and grief can emerge in client scenes.

Who will benefit:
I have worked with therapists who use Sandtray, Sandplay, and those who use other expressive arts, such as poetry, music, narrative and movement. A therapist does not need to be using Sand Therapy with a client for consultation. For example, a therapist that uses other expressive therapies, such as art therapy, may use the consult to examine parallels in their client’s art and the therapist’s creation of a sand scene, or create a sand scene to gain alternative ways to grasp the client situation. Therapists who use family systems or cognitive approaches may find consultation offers a shift in perspective to enhance and complement their therapeutic approach.

I look forward to working with you to support your work with your clients.

Regards, Dr.Dee

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