Sandplay: A Film with Dora M. Kalff

Peter Ammann

This film features Dora Kalff, a Jungian child analyst from Zurich, who offers her patients a sandbox along with a large array of miniature objects to be used in making sandplay constructions. Kalff’s formulations, however, are rooted in the early years of psychodynamic theory, a theory that has evolved over time. While some of these may be somewhat reductive, nevertheless this video is valuable because it illustrates the work of a pioneer in the field, one who studied with both Carl Jung and with Margaret Lowenfeld, considered to be the originator of the “world technique” of sand play.

This video gives a glimpse of Kalff’s receptivity and deep interest in her patient’s dynamics, enabling us to see the emotional and behavioral changes in one youngster’s therapy, mirrored in his nonverbal and symbolic sandplay  constructions. Perhaps an important “take away” from this film, therefore, is that techniques and precise interventions may not always be the significant factor in therapeutic change, as much as a respectful relationship with an empathic therapist. The somewhat dated case formulations, therefore, may be offset by the child’s changes at termination, which are a pleasure to observe.

From Eleanor Irwin, PhD, RDT, TEP:
“In this film, Dora Kalff, a Jungian analyst, discusses her technique of sand play therapy, demonstrating her theories with four child patients. The sand box, Kalff emphasizes, represents a special defined space using sand, an element of the earth. Encouraged to choose from an almost unlimited choice of figures and items, the child makes three-dimensional sand pictures as he explores his fantasies. One child’s therapy is illustrated as a narrator, using Jungian archetypes, interprets his changing sand constructions describing the boy’s progress. Whether or not one accepts the interpretations, the child’s progress is clear as he moves from constricted movement and stereotypical constructions to more creative scenes, increased verbalization and fluid use of space as his treatment progresses.”

Total Running Time: 50 minutes, 19 seconds



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