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

Scheduled Presentations


           Sunday March 22, 2015. 10-2pm.    San Rafael, CA
This event continues NCRSS's mission to provide excellent Sandplay education with viewing the second film in our Sandplay Origins series: Sandplay with Dora Kalff. The film is fascinating as well as instructive with Frau Kalff in session with child patients. Teaching members Tessamarie Capitolo, MFT  and Ellen Searle LeBel, MFT will also show and discuss excerpts from a Jung film, The World Within, showing his permeable influence in the creation of Sandplay therapy. This is a free event offering 3 CEU's, open to any therapist and member of NCRSS.
For more information and to register, go to www.norcalsandplay.org


Northern California Regional Sandplay Society Training Program

                    Saturday April 11, 2015.  Mountain View CA
One of a series in the training program for the Northern California Regional Sandplay Society, this 6-hour intermediate course is for therapists who have taken introductory coursework in Sandplay therapy.
The unconscious process of healing from  trauma is revealed in  two adult sandplay cases. We will follow themes of descent and ascent, expansion and constriction, chaos and centering, as the sandplay scenes symbolize the psyche's self healing through play and imagination. We will interactively observe and relate to the co-transference, witnessing the parallels of progression and regression in the attachment to the therapist. 6 CEUs will be provided.
For more information and to register go to: www.norcalsandplay.org

Past Presentations

Mirrors, Mounds and Meanders: A story of healing from abandonment and abuse
This case illustrates the challenges and potential of therapy with adult clients who have suffered complex early trauma. The process of psychic healing goes beyond the traumatic history to core problems with relationships, ego, archetypal defenses, and development gaps. In this case, the client found that sandplay and other nonverbal approaches were essential to her process. Also notable is the importance of the co-transference with the therapist and the necessity for both attunement and a secure frame.

June 8. Seattle, WA.
Sandplay Therapists of America National Conference

Body, Psyche and Symbol in Sandplay 
This workshop explored the triadic interplay of the body, psyche and symbols in sandplay with case examples and experiential exercises. The presentation was based on Dora Kalff's developmental theory of psychic totality and Jung's method of active imagination and his concept of the transcendent function. We defined and explored multi-sensory awareness, levels of transference and amplification of symbols through movement and art. Participants used aesthetic response and somatic witnessing to respond to two cases, followed by group discussion. 

The workshop offered a learning experience that is playful, experiential and integrative. Our goal is to inspire and instruct sandplay therapists toward deeper understanding and and an ability to witness the nonverbal process in sandplay as well as in the therapeutic relationship.

April 5, St. Paul MN

How Healing Happens: A Panel on Trauma, the Body, and Integrative Healing
Jacqueline Mayrand, LMFT
Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, BC-DMT, CST

Laurie Monroe, MSW, LCSW

Sponsored by the Emma Center and the Women´s International League for Peace and Freedom.

March 8, 2014.  Arcata, CA.
International Women´s Day, Arcata Playhouse.

Sandplay Therapy Assembly
Ellen was a co-consultant with David Dermott, PsyD, CST-T.  One group member presented a sandplay case and we facilitated discussion.

May 31 - June 2, 2013. Albuquerque, NM.

Body, Sand and Self: Symbolic Expression in Dance Movement Therapy and Sandplay

Abstract:  Sandplay therapy links emotion and image through body movement and symbolic play. Jungian theory, fundamental Sandplay techniques and understanding symbolic process can be effectively combined with dance/movement therapy. Therapists experience and witness how symbol and affect are linked physically in clients expressive play and unconscious material is integrated. A case study illustrates the therapeutic use of Authentic Movement and Sandplay.

Extended Description:  Sandplay therapy links emotion and image through body movement and symbolic play. Dance/movement therapy, including Authentic Movement, can be offered with Sandplay to enhance integration and healing in therapy with children and adults. In Sandplay, people express their inner world as they play and sculpt the sand, select symbolic objects and figures, and arrange them in a rectangular container. Understanding how to witness and amplify the symbolic process with Sandplay gives dance/movement therapists new perspectives and creative therapeutic approaches. Sandplay therapy appeals to people across cultures, transcends language, and is useful in a wide range of clinical and community settings.

This presentation began with a lecture and visual presentation explaining Sandplay therapy techniques and theoretical foundation, articulating many specific similarities between DMT and Sandplay. Participants then engaged in a combined movement and Sandplay exploration to illustrate the experience of somatic empathy using Sandplay figures. Through observing and witnessing the process, we discussed how symbol and affect are linked and expressed in gesture, posture and facial expressions. The presentation concluded with a brief case presentation, sharing an authentic movement and Sandplay therapy of a middle aged Latina/Filipina woman struggling with physical injury, self-esteem and life choices.

Jung’s theories informed the development of Sandplay therapy by Dora Kalff, one of his students. The relatedness of dance/movement therapy and Sandplay therapy was first explored in the 1990’s by Jungian dance/movement therapists Joan Chodorow (1991) and Carolyn Grant Fay(1996). With this presentation, DMT’s learned about and perhaps were inspired to further study Sandplay and incorporate it in their practice.

The presentation is designed for mid-level and advanced DMT’s. Participants received handouts and references.

October 12, 2012.  Albuquerque, NM.
American Dance Therapy Association National Conference.

International Sandplay Forum

We invite everyone who is curious to learn about innovative use of Sandplay in various cultures and settings. Panelists include Sachiko Taki-Reese, Ed.D, MFT, JA, CST-T describing Sandplay with survivors of the tsunami in Japan, and Kathy Buys, MFT, sharing her experiences offering Sandplay in Uganda. An open discussion with panelists and audience moderated by Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, BC-DMT, CST.

2012 Sandplay Therapists of America National Conference. May 31 - June 3, 2012. Berkeley, CA. www.sta.org

Integration, Reflection & Return Conference Closing Session.

After a deep encounter with the Self, how do clinicians and clients hold that feeling, image, and experience internally? Our closing community session will include time to review, remember, and explore this question theoretically, personally and collectively as the conference closes, and participants prepare for departure.

Regina Driscoll, Ph.D, CST-T; Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, BC-DMT, CST; Liza Ravitz, Ph.D., JA, CST-T; Ellen Saul, MS, LP, CST-T; Laura Soble, MFT, REAT, CST

2012 Sandplay Therapists of America National Conference. June 3, 2012. Berkeley, CA. www.sta.org

Help for Therapists with Traumatic Stress

How do you know if you are experiencing traumatic stress? Are you feeling flooded or helpless after sessions with a client? Are you dreading sessions with traumatized clients, feeling burned out or less compassionate? There is help for understanding your own risk of vicarious trauma thanks to recent neuroscience research. We now have evidence of the physiological and psychological responses to trauma, including therapists’ experiences with their traumatized clients. This is good news!

In this presentation you will learn about the autonomic nervous system and how mirror neurons and somatic empathy contribute to developing traumatic stress and burnout. You will understand how to assess risks and observe signs of stress related to vicarious trauma for yourself and colleagues and playfully practice interactive strategies to use in therapy sessions for managing or preventing traumatic stress. Finally, you will explore ways to improve self care, reduce stress and help you become more aware and able to effectively treat trauma.

North Coast Association of Mental Health Professionals
Wednesday October 5, 2011 at the Humboldt Area Foundation, Indianola, CA.
To find out more about NCAMHP please visit www.ncamhp.org.

Mirrors, Mounds and Meanders: A Case of Healing in Mid-life from Childhood Abandonment and Abuse.

In this case, we witness an adult woman's Sandplay as she forms a therapeutic attachment and overcomes her fear of uncovering the profound neglect and abandonment of her childhood. Her dreamwork and Sandplay process reveals a landscape of healing images with many mounds, mirrors and meandering rivers and paths. As her unconscious is expressed, we see the emergence of archetypal images of the divine child, nurturing feminine figures and a vivid integration of the Self. For further information about this event or Sandplay Therapists of America go to the home page of www.sandplay.org.

This presentation was sponsored by Tessamarie Capitolo, CST, at the Sandplay Therapists of America Assembly 2011, October 21-23 in Chanhassen, Minnesota. I presented the case as part of this national gathering of Sandplay therapists.

Embodied Sandplay Therapy: Joining Psyche and Soma              

  Description:  In this experiential presentation, participants will learn how to cultivate an embodied approach to Sandplay therapy through movement and witnessing.  Therapists will learn about the concepts of kinesthetic empathy and somatic transference through activities that increase spatial awareness, improve tracking of sensations and affect and practice somatic witnessing and mirroring.  Miniature figures and archetypal imagery will be used to illustrate how the body relates to symbols and unconscious themes.                         

Abstract:  Awareness of bodily experiences in Sandplay helps therapists identify emotional states, co-transference and developmental themes as they are expressed somatically.  With increased attention to sensation, emotions and associations with somatic expression, Sandplay therapists can observe their own kinesthetic responses as well as witness their clients' emerging unconscious themes.  Concepts and practices from dance/movement therapy and authentic movement will be introduced and explored in relation to embodied symbols and archetypes that emerge in a Sandplay process.

Sandplay Therapists of America National Conference. June 3-6, 2010 Boulder, CO.