For further Information or Appointments: 01792 720477


Sandtray Training

Kirsty Bilski has used sandtray as a psychotherapeutic tool in therapy sessions and supervision throughout her career. She originally trained with Ken Rabone at the Iron Mill Institute in Exeter (Now Iron Mill College), and has gained an extensive knowledge and theoretical understanding through many years of continuous study. She has completed a Masters Degree (MA) in counselling Children and Young People as well as a further MA in Consultative Supervision. During both of these qualifications Kirsty researched sandtray processess which formed a fundamental part of both of these academic awards. In 2015 she was awarded a scholarship with the University of South Wales to study towards a Doctorate (PhD) which is due to conclude 2019/2020. She has written academically about the efficacy of sandtray in therapy as well as its use in Supervision. Kirsty’s Doctoral research has continued to explore theory and practice surrounding the use of sandtray in a therapeutic context as well as in supervision. Her recent research has surrounded the use of sandtray with adolescents more specifically, although she has used sandtray throughout her practice with Adults, Children and Young People. Kirsty was awarded a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) 2016, and now teaches on various undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the University of South Wales. In addition to her clinical practice and teaching responsibilities, Kirsty also offers a variety of sandtray training courses from her office in Swansea. These have been extremely successful training events and the feedback from professionals who attend has been extremely encouraging. Attendees typically leave with confidence to apply their knowledge in practice, a good theoretical understanding, with a clear knowledge of safety and the importance of ethical awareness for the potency of this very special pscyhotherapeutic tool.

Broadly speaking there are two main theoretical strands to working with sand, one originating from the early work of Margaret Lowenfeld, the other from the later work of Dora Kallf. The approach associated with its earlier use tends to be (not exclusively so) known as 'Sandtray Therapy', the later approach is known as 'Sandplay Therapy' being more associated with a Jungian Analytical approach.

Many counsellors and allied professionals will attempt to use sandtray with very little knowledge for the potential of this approach. It does enable access to deep awareness from the unconscious, the process therefore demands respect and must be used wisely, carefully, mindfully and gently. Training is essential. These courses offer a starting point for therapists and have a clear focus on teaching ethical safe practice. Counsellors and psychotherapists, as well as supervisors, will learn how to use this approach safely whilst also experiencing what it feels like to be the client and the supervisee. There is a strong emphasis on experiential learning.

Kirsty has also taught groups of play therapists, social workers and other allied professionals who use sandtray in their therapeutic practice with groups or individuals, adults, children and young people. There is a wealth of research available which advocates for the use of sandtray in a variety of settings and with a wide variety of emotional challenges. Aside from the training dates which are planned in the calendar below, if you are able to bring together 4 - 6 professionals, qualified or in training, Kirsty will happily arrange a training event which is tailored to the specific requirements of the group. Please see the training calendar below for scheduled events. If you would like to book a place please email for a booking form.


(last updated 17/08/19)

Final dates for 2019

7th - 8th September 2019: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Foundation Stage

14th - 15th September 2019: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Intermediate Stage

Dates for 2020

15th - 16th February 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Foundation Stage

22nd - 23rd February 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Intermediate Stage

28th - 29th March 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Foundation Stage

4th - 5th April 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Intermediate Stage

30th - 31st May 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Foundation Stage

6th - 7th June 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Intermediate Stage

5th - 6th September 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Foundation Stage

12th - 13th September 2020: Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Intermediate Stage

Venue & Fees

Way Forward Sandtray.jpg

Training is delivered at Way Forward Counselling Services Ltd, 9 Tawe Business Village, Phoenix Way, Swansea Enterprise park, Swansea, SA7 9LA. For those travelling some distance from home and staying overnight, there are plenty of places to stay locally. The Mercure Swansea Hotel is within easy walking distance of the venue.

This is a comfortable and spaceous training venue, with a park and lake opposite offering a gentle, reflective space during breaks and lunch if required. There is parking immediately outside which is free of charge. Although there are disabled bathroom facilities on the ground floor, the training room is on the first floor. You will need to be able to climb a flight of stairs to be able to attend these training sessions. If you are interested in the training but have a disability which would prevent you attending, make contact with Kirsty and she will do her best to consider your specific needs.

Each training day costs £120 per person per day

(Fees include light lunch and refreshments throughout the day)

A CPD certificate will be provided on completion of each training course

When completing and returning your booking form, you will be asked to pay a £50, non refundable, deposit to secure your place on the Foundation, Intermediate, Supervision, Bereavement and Mindfulness Courses.

There is a £100, non refundable, deposit to secure your place on the Advanced Level Training

For a booking form, or further information, please contact Kirsty Bilski on 07971 264251 or email

What to Expect…

The courses are experiential and demand a high level of personal awareness. Therefore all attendees for the scheduled training events are required to have completed a qualfication which has included self reflection and continued insight into personal awareness. Typically the training groups include qualified counsellors, psychotherapists or play therapists although other allied professionals such as social workers have also attended.

The only way to learn to use sandtray ethically and safely is to experience how it feels to be a client, so you will be working in dyads to practice techniques throughout all training levels. You can expect to do a signficant amount of personal process over these days, whilst engaging in learning the practical and theoretical elements of the course. There will also be opportunities to watch demonstrations and to take part in associated learning activities. Keeping attendance strictly for qualified professionals helps to ‘balance’ the learning for the scheduled training groups, those who have attended in the past have remarked on the learning gained through the additional sharing of group experience. A CPD certificate is supplied for attendance/completion of each level of training. It is recommended that all applicants have attended the Foundation Level before progressing through the other courses, unless you have significant prior learning which can be assessed when you complete your booking form on a case by case basis. The information covered in the Foundation Level is not addressed on any of the other training courses, and the pressure of time would not make it possible to revisit this and complete the schedule for each course too. Not completing this initial level may limit your enjoyment of the subsequent courses for that reason.

Bespoke training days can be organised on a case by case basis for groups who are in training to be counsellors, as well as groups of play therapists or other allied professionals in training. Groups of qualified therapists can also book bespoke training days if required. You would need to assemble a group of 4 - 6 people (preferably an even number) who wish to attend a training. The group needs to be ‘balanced’ - either all qualified or all currently in training, therefore all of a similar level of personal/professional development. The benefit of planning your own training days is that you get to choose dates that suit you as a group, it enables those still in training to attend and for the group to decide the content they would particularly like to focus on. The fees for each attendee being exactly the same as for the sceduled training.

All courses run between 9.30am and 4.30pm with breaks mid morning and mid afternoon and an hour lunch break (Breaks are negotiable if groups wish to finish earlier - this will be discussed individually with each group).

Lunch and refreshments are provided although there are various shops in the locality if you have additional requirements. We aim to meet a variety of dietary needs but make sure you put these on your booking form so we can plan ahead for you.

Places on each scheduled course are limited so early booking is essential. This is an intensive learning experience and places are limited to a maximum of 6, in order for the group to be held safely and to a form a trusted learning environment.


Further information and updates are published on Facebook page: Sandtray therapy by Kirsty Bilski

Using sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy:

Foundation Level (2 Days)

Appropriate for those starting to be interested in using sandtray in their therapy practice with little or no prior experience of using sand. To apply for a place on one of these courses you will need to be a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist. If you are an allied professional, you will need to have achieved a qualification which includes a level of ‘self work’, internal reflection and which values continued development of professional and personal awareness. You will also need to evidence having worked in a therapeutic context with clients.

As long as you meet the above criteria, the courses are available to practitioners who want to use sandtray safely and ethically with adults or children and young people. This course will provide you with a background understanding of the theory behind the approach as well as the practical skills to get started. You will be taught from an integrative perspective, learning how different counselling theories can be applied to this work. Margaret Lowenfeld (1979) suggests that sandtray is a 'tool' that can be used from multiple theoretical stances; throughout, Kirsty will highlight and demonstrate how a variety of models can be successfully applied. You will learn how to use sand on its own, as well as with miniatures. You will also explore symbols, projection and intepretation, as well as learning an integrative framework which can be applied to your professional practice with sand moving forward. You will build experience through experiential practice with other members of the group. Sandtray is a powerful tool and there is a requirement that attendees recognise they may be emotionally stimulated by the content in sandtrays, by aspects shared by others and by their own process. You will also learn by watching demonstrations and taking part in learning activities to enhance your understanding and developing skills. You will grow from the experience of the group and there is a strong emphasis on working safely and ethically with this powerful creative tool. It is recommended to complete this training before undertaking the Intermediate course, as the content forms the theoretical foundation for all the other courses on offer. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 12 hours.

KB sand.jpg

Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy :

Intermediate Level (2 Days)

This course is designed to build from the Foundation Stage, layering theory and experiential practice on top of existing learning. You will learn more complex theoretical concepts including change theories, transference, countertransference and cotransference along with projective identification and the relevance of interpretation explored from different perspectives . Also included is an awareness of working with the whole self in relationship with the other in order to hold the space, with deep attunement and attention to safety. Mindfulness is used throughout and you will experience the depth of connection which can be achieved through the use of sand. The course culminates in exploring group sandtray process. As with the Foundation Stage, the course is only open to qualified professionals due to the depth of the experiential content. Previous groups have remarked on the learning that takes place on two levels; the professional level of how to approach using sandtray but also the personal level. Because of the depth of the experiential aspect of this learning, you will almost certainly experience the personally therapeutic value of attending although the main focus is to learn how to use sandtray appropriately. There is a clear emphasis on experiential learning which is a step up from the Foundation Stage. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 12 hours.

The following courses are not scheduled to run in 2020 but there are some exciting developments with these learning opportunities. Please feel free to contact Kirsty and ask about this training she will be happy to fill you in on the details:

Using Sandtray in Counselling & Psychotherapy: Advanced Level (4 Days)

This course once again builds on the previous training and requires completion of the Foundation and Intermediate Levels, or equivelant prior learning which will be assessed at the time of your application. The trainning is broken into 2 weekends with a gap for some course work in between.

First Weekend…

The first weekend will continue to stretch your appreciation for the theoretical underpinnings of this creative approach. You will continue with experiential dyads and expanding your confidence through practice, reflections and feedback in pairs and to the group. You will gain a depper appreciation for more complex theory and techniques. You will engage in group discussions surrounding research in this field and critically evaluate the use of theory and approaches. As with the other levels, experiential learning is at the heart of this training and you will continue to personally and professionally grow through your engagement with the group. You will be fully prepared to undertake case study reflections in preparation for the second weekend, you will be fully briefed in relation to ethical expections surrounding this work. Your insights will be shared with the group as an integral part of the second weekend and you will receive feedback from your peers.

Second Weekend…

During the second weekend you will present an anonymised case study reflections which you will have completed between the first and second weekend. The focus will be on how you worked with your client, what you noticed and how this presented in the sandtray. You will deliver this as you might present a client in supervision. This case material will be explored (and celebrated!) by the group to enable additional learning through peer reflection. There will be an emphasis on the confidentiality of the group and no material will be identifiable - the safe boundaries of these presentations will be explored in the first weekend as you prepare for the task. In addition to the presentations you will also learn about using sandtray in supervision, and how to make the most of this approach to broaden your understanding of self as a practitioner and the quality of your client work. This learning will incorporate a number of supervision theories and how they fit with the use of sand in Counselling and Psychotherapy. You will complete a group supervision tray using some of your reflections of self from your peer feedback. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 24 hours which will also itemise the preparation of case material presention as an additional componant. Although this is through home study, it is an integral part of the course with a further 6 hours CPD being claimed for this work. Therefore the total CPD hours claimed for this course will be 30 hours.

Using Sandtray in Supervision (2 Days)

This course is for supervisors who wish to work ethically and safely with sandtray in a supervisory capacity. This is for established supervisors who have received previous supervision training. Attendance on this course requires previous attendance on the Foundation and Intermediate Level training, or significant prior training and experience. Elements from the previous traininig courses will be referred to intermittently throughout and it may limit your enjoyment if you have not completed the previous levels. The sandtray supervision approach refers specifically to the 7 Eyed Model (Hawkins & Shohet 2012), along with other supervision models. The course considers exploring case presentation in a sandtray, thinking about safeguarding and protection issues as well as ethical and safe practice. Awareness of the significant differences between using a sandtray therapeutically and in a supervision capacity will also be explored. Research suggests that the process has some significant differences between how it is used in therapy and how the process may be contained safely in supervision. It will enable your supervisees to explore their practice at significant depth, to gain more insight from their supervision. You will also benefit from the opportunity of further experiential learning. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 12 hours.

If you would like to attend individually for some sandtray supervision instruction, please feel free to contact kirsty directly and this can be arranged.

Sandtray, Bereavement and Loss (2 Days)

This course requires attendees to have at least attended the Foundation Level of training or to have evidence of appropriate prior learning. This course will not cover the basics of using sandtray and will assume you have a working knowledge of these aspects. You will explore a variety of theories which are useful in working with grief and loss, along with how they specifically apply to using sandtray in a therapeutic environment. You will learn how to therapeutically ‘hold’ your client whilst keeping an awareness of relevant counselling theories which underpin practice in this area. You will learn to have an awareness of how your own material can easily impact the therapeutic space, how to monitor this and maintain focus on the client. Along with theories surrounding grief and loss, the content will also connect with themes of Spirituality and Transpersonal thinking. As with the other courses you will work experientially in dyads, offering each other feedback and exploring themes surrounding learning in the wider group. You will undoubtedly access personal experience surrounding grief and loss throughout the training and, therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential emotional impact of this learning. The group will be a maximum of 6 people and the course is facilitated and held in a careful, mindful way. Kirsty always aims to create a safe learning environment although it is important to be mindful of your own process, how much you wish to share or withhold is always your choice. Attendees who have completed this work previously have found it to be a fulfilling experience on a professional and personal developmental level. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 12 hours.

Sand & Mindfulness (1 Day)

This course requires attendees to have at least attended the Foundation Level of training or to have evidence of appropriate prior learning. This course will not cover the basics of using sandtray and will assume you have a working knowledge of these aspects. You will cover an approach to mindfulness which will enable your clients to connect with the symbolism of the sandtray through visualisation, the use of metaphor and focusing. You will cover Mindfulness approaches and learn how to deeply attune to your clients experience and empower them to express themselves using the sand. This learning will also connectt with themes surrounding Spirituality and Transpersonal thinking. The group will be a maximum of 6 attendees and will be held safely. You are likely to access aspects of your own personal experience through experiential practice in dyads. You will receive feedback from your peers and discuss aspects of learning in the wider group. On completion you will receive a CPD certificate of attendance for 6 hours.