Lenae Case Vignette
Girl Age 7
Mother & Father separated
Youngest of two girls; has teenage sister
Lives with Mother, visits Father
Father alcoholic, war veteran, PTSD
Brought to treatment by Mother, who suspects sexual abuse by
Father following recent suspicious injuries to child –
Hospital reported no evidence of sexual violation to the
Study these trays using your Guidelines and answer all of the Quiz questions regarding each tray. After this is complete, move to the Facilitator’s comments.
Lenae Tray 1
Tray 1 Brief Description
- Four nesting dolls lie on their backs
- The children have books covering their faces
- Small pine tree and half-buried bottle next to smaller child
Near & Center Left
- “Seaweed” (named by child)
Facilitator’s Comments ~ Lenae Tray 1
Concept: unconscious & consciousness
Mode of Illustration: symbolic content, spatial positioning
This vignette from Lenae’s Sandplay process demonstrates some interesting movement between the unconscious and conscious functioning.
As with all of the sand trays we will examine in this course, there is much more going on in the tray than we will be studying. The focus of our exploration is to develop an understanding of how the psyche is changing in Sandplay, using Jung’s theory as our language for discussion.
An initial look at this tray may bring up feelings of emptiness, or loneliness. There is a lot of emptiness, empty space. This does not feel like a serene emptiness, but an absence, or a vacancy. Something that is currently unconscious is needed to fill the barrenness. The central archetype of the Self is pulling the ego to develop around the issues of the psychic tensions held in this tray.
The family of four is not standing. Their prone position may indicate that they are resting, or sun bathing, however in the context of the other elements in this sand tray, my sense is that lying on their backs has more to do with a condition of unconsciousness in Lenae’s family and in Lenae’s psyche. There are things, parts of her inner and outer worlds, she cannot stand up and deal with directly.
This unconscious condition is underscored by the placement of books over the faces of the two children. Lenae’s psyche deliberately made the effort to block the vision of these aspects of herself. Perhaps there is something too awful to face, something(s) she was not ready, or capable of dealing with. Yet, it remains present.
The dramatic juxtaposition between the land mass, on the right, and the sea, on the left, symbolically appears to hold something deep or vast. The meeting place between the land and the sea is abrupt. It is not a gentle, gradual slope to the sea, but a striking drop. Symbolically, the ocean, or sea carries the energies of the unconscious. It is unfathomable, and we only see its surface. Symbolically, the family is at the edge of these unconscious depths. Something from the unconscious depths is needed to put the family back on its feet.
Importantly, there is seaweed growing in the ocean. This suggests that the unconscious is active and something rooted at the bottom is beginning to develop. We are not sure what specifically characterizes those energies, but they are definitely present.
The half-buried bottle and the tiny pine tree next to the smaller child mirror this unconsciousness and the beginnings of growth. The bottle holds liquids, and is only partially exposed. Something buried is underground, unconscious. We know this child’s father is alcoholic. Perhaps the half-exposed bottle concerns the effects of the alcoholism on Lenae’s inner and outer worlds. The proximity of the bottle to the youngest child, (Lenae’s position in the family) suggests that the psychic energies carried by this bottle are particularly significant to her, and to the work she undertakes in her Sandplay process. Like the seaweed, the tiny pine tree indicates some growth or development currently taking place around these issues.
The lone, distant pelican stands on its own feet, unlike the family. Perhaps the pelican symbolically carries the healing and transformative energies that will emerge out of the depths of the unconscious to facilitate Lenae’s psychic development.
Lenae Tray 6
Lenae ~ Tray 6 Brief Description
- “Pirate Ship” named by child
- Gold coins, jewels
- Rock with seagulls
- Silver star
- Crystal star
- Large jewel
- Spiral Nautilus shell
- Family of three whales
Facilitator’s Comments ~ Lenae Tray 6
Concept: unconscious & consciousness
Mode of Illustration: symbolic content, spatial ascent
Lenae’s Tray 6 suggests that we are in the sea. There is a masted ship in the near right, and a family of whales emerges from the opening of a spiral Nautilus shell in the center. Sea gulls, birds of the ocean, fly around a rock, and stars and jewels are scattered about.
Since Tray 1, Lenae’s psyche has accessed, or visited, the depths of the unconscious. In this tray, psychic energies begin to surface into consciousness.
The whales are known to descend to the depths of the ocean. Symbolically speaking, their journeys are in the dark waters of the unconscious. In this Sandplay, they return to the surface through the portal of a spiral shell. The spiral indicates a journey with progressive descent and ascent. As the whales come in to the light of day, jewels appear. Lenae’s psyche descends into the depths of the unconscious and brings treasures to the surface.
We do not know specifically what psychic qualities Lenae has accessed in this part of her journey, but we know the properties, or qualities that now appear as jewels are a result of that descent. As jewels are precious, we also know that the qualities that are now emerging are informed by the central archetype of the Self.
Lenae’s process from Tray 1 to Tray 6 is a good example of how Jungian language allows us to engage in a relationship with the movements of her psyche, even though we do not know specifically what conflicts she is working on, nor the details of their remedies.