Supporting Sandtray Therapy on an Interactive Tabletop



We present the iterative design of a virtual sandtray application for a tabletop display. The purpose of our prototype is to support sandtray therapy, a form of art therapy typically used for younger clients. A significant aspect of this therapy is the insight gained by the therapist as they observe the client interact with the figurines they use to create a scene in the sandtray. In this manner, the therapist can gain increased understanding of the client's psyche. We worked with three sandtray therapists throughout the evolution of our prototype. We describe the details of the three phases of this design process: initial face-to-face meetings, iterative design and development via distance collaboration, and a final face-to-face feedback session. This process revealed that our prototype was sufficient for therapists to gain insight about a person's psyche through their interactions with the virtual sandtray.

Paper download:  (8.3 MB)


CHI 2010 Fast-Forward:

Main Reference:

Mark Hancock, Thomas ten Cate, Sheelagh Carpendale, and Tobias Isenberg (2010) Supporting Sandtray Therapy on an Interactive Tabletop. In Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Scott Hudson, Keith Edwards, Tom Rodden, and Elizabeth Mynatt, eds., Proceedings of the 28th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI, April 10–15, Atlanta, Georgia, USA). ACM, New York, pages 2133–2142, 2010.

BibTeX entry:

@INPROCEEDINGS{Hancock:2010:SST, author = {Mark Hancock and Thomas ten Cate and Sheelagh Carpendale and Tobias Isenberg}, title = {Supporting Sandtray Therapy on an Interactive Tabletop}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 28\textsuperscript{th} ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI, April 10--15, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)}, OPTeditor = {Geraldine Fitzpatrick and Scott Hudson and Keith Edwards and Tom Rodden and Elizabeth Mynatt}, year = {2010}, pages = {2133--2142}, publisher = {ACM}, address = {New York}, doi = {10.1145/1753326.1753651}, doi_url = {}, url = {}, url2 = {}, pdf = {}, }

Other Reference:

Thomas ten Cate (2009) A Virtual Sandtray on a Tabletop Computer. Master's thesis, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 2009.

BibTeX entry:

@MASTERSTHESIS{TenCate:2009:UIS, author = {ten Cate, Thomas}, title = {A Virtual Sandtray on a Tabletop Computer}, year = {2009}, school = {University of Groningen}, address = {The Netherlands}, url = {}, url2 = {}, pdf = {}, }

This work was done at and in collaboration with the Innovis group at the Interactions Lab of the University of Calgary, Canada. For more information see the project page and the overview page at Innovis.