Hakoniwa Group Sandplay_Ellen2020

“Hakoniwa Group Sandplay

Presenter: Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, BC-DMT, CST-T

Time: 9AM – 4PM

Date: Saturday, April 4, 2020

Location: Denver Tech Area, 10 Inverness Drive East, 2nd Floor Conference Room,  Englewood, CO

Dora M. Kalff developed sandplay in a context of individual therapy based on Jungian analysis and child therapy approaches of her time. Although Kalff did not have the opportunity to explore the possibility of sandplay with groups in her lifetime, other trained sandplay therapists since Kalff have explored how “the free and protected space” allows the collective unconscious to support healing.

This experientially based presentation introduces the use of group sandplay with community groups following collective trauma, in therapist training programs and sandplay group supervision. Hakoniwa group sandplay is a form of multi-sensory, interactive play with 4-6 people using symbolic figures to create a scene together in a sand tray.

In this form of group sandplay, the trained facilitator and the circular procedure create the temenos and promote a cohesive working relationship between the participants that develops in a very short time. The arranged symbols interact and resonate in a multi-dimensional relational field, forming a tangible co-creation where wholeness is seen and held archetypally in the psyche. When the play cycle is complete, participants share their associations, insights, interactions, synchronicities and emotions.

Theory, practice and research of group sandplay are reviewed and discussed. We will practice methods of embodied witnessing, inner tracking of associations to symbols and interactions between the group members.

The Hakoniwa process was developed by Dr. Yasunoba Okada, ISST and practiced with educators, professionals and in communities following disaster in Japan. Sachiko Taki-Reece’s recent research using Hakoniwa in candidate training groups reveals the development of collective interaction over time. We will conclude with group discussion.


  • Identify how Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious is evident in group sandplay therapy.
  • Describe Okada’s procedure for Hakoniwa..
  • Discuss the use and potential of group sandplay in communities affected by collective trauma such as disaster, war and terrorism.
  • Define the facilitator’s role as witness in Hakoniwa.
  • Articulate the differences between use of Hakoniwa in training/supervision and for general public.
  • Contrast the Hakoniwa method with other approaches to group sandtray process.


Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, BC-DMT, CST-T, is a Jungian oriented therapist in private practice in Arcata, California. Her therapeutic approach integrates verbal therapy with sandplay, dance/movement therapy and active imagination.

She co-presented Hakoniwa Group Sandplay with Sachiko Taki-Reece at the 2019 IAAP Congress, 2018 STA Conference and 2017 ISST Congress. Ellen teaches and presents nationally and internationally and was on the faculty at Humboldt State University, where she developed integrative trauma therapy groups for students and process groups for clinicians to manage secondary traumatization.

She volunteers as President of the Northern California Regional Sandplay Society (NCRSS) and has served on the Ethics Review Committee of STA. Ellen has written articles for the Journal of Sandplay Therapy and other publications and is on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Dance Therapy.

To reserve your space for this  FULL DAY  workshop, you will need to complete two steps:

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