I founded Sands of Time to offer psychological and spiritual opportunities to those in their later years and to promote the use of sandplay as a standard method of working creatively with elders.
I began my work with older adults in 1985 when, as a parish council representative, I decided to visit the many families in my district. I discovered two older sisters living alone. One was 92 years old and the other was 90. The 92 year old was taking care of the 90 year old who had dementia. In trying to set up services to assist these two elders, I was introduced to the world of geriatric services.
Over the years, I have worked in the field of aging in multiple capacities. My background includes community organizing, volunteer management, program development and oversight, case management, activity director for skilled nursing and directing a home care agency. In the early 1990s, I also started an organization in San Francisco that provided groups, conferences and education on spirituality and aging. Trained as a spiritual director I enjoyed a special course in sandplay. This was the beginning of a love affair with sand and miniatures.
In 2007, a mentor retired and donated her sandbox and miniatures to me. I was working at that time in a nursing home. Not knowing what else to do with this gift, I decided to see how elders responded to sandplay. Over the course of several months, every elder who was willing created sand scenes. The elders’ response was so positive and the emotional effects so surprisingly affirming that I decided to go back to school for a degree in Jungian studies. For my thesis I designed a research project that used sandplay with elders who are forgetful. The results of this study convinced me that this method needs to be widely employed in the field of geriatrics because of its ability to access emotional states that, when access is not available, often result in depression, anxiety, acting out and a significantly lowered quality of life.
The genesis of Sands of Time comes from the desire to make sandplay accessible to elders and to educate the geriatric community in its use. Coupled with this is my life-long interest in the spiritual dimension of life and particularly how the needs of the inner life come to the fore as the outer life loosens its grip on our psyche.
I was recently published in the Journal of Religion, Spirituality and Aging:
Using Sandplay to Explore Inner States
This paper introduces the use of sandplay, a non-verbal method of accessing the inner world, with elders living with memory loss. The psychology of C.G. Jung is used as a support in exploring potential meaning in late life and behaviors in dementia that defy our present understanding of what is possible developmentally with this population. The sandplays of five elders in varying stages of memory loss are used to demonstrate the depth of their interior world despite their diagnosis. Read more…