The Israeli Sandplay Therapist Association

The Israeli Sandplay therapist Association [ISTA] is a non-profit organization that has existed since 1993, dedicated to the establishment of a network of trained Sandplay therapists, and to the development of Sandplay therapy as a therapeutic  technique  to be available tor the professional community of caregivers in Israel  to add to their clinical tools to provide clinical service to the populations of Israel.

ISTA was founded in 1993 by Ms. Rina Porat and Dr. Bert Meltzer.   The Israel Sandplay Therapist Association ISTA  was originally funded by a  grant from the Rich-Doron Foundation to develop of a network of Sandplay therapists to provide services to special populations including children and adults in life crisis (war traumas, life threatening illness’) and to children and adults with “special needs” e.g. where verbal communication may be difficult,  limited, or unavailable.

In addition to teaching, training, and supervising, over the last twenty years ISTA and ISTA members  have expanded from the initial two, to thirteen registered members, and over seventy other professionals who are affiliated with ISTA.    Sandplay training programs and Sandplay seminars have been, and are being offered by many of the senior members of ISTA.  At present there are at least four advanced training programs ongoing in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Southern Israel, and a fifth in the development stage for Jerusalem.

ISTA members have developed service projects that have extended the uses of sandplay to diverse needy populations throughout this small country.    Projects have included: sandplay with special needs children: including physically, mentally, and emotionally handicapped children; sandplay for children and adolescents who have been physically and sexually abused;  and sandplay with mental hospital populations.   Sandplay is also being used with new immigrant populations in which language and communication is an issue; and on the oncology ward of Hadassah hospital, sandplay is an important part of the psychological treatment of children with terminal illness.  Sandplay has been used as part of emergency response to victims of war and terrorism: from the first Scud missile attack victims in the “First Gulf War”, to the rocket attacks on the Northern borders of Israel,  to victims of the intifada violence and other recent wars and terrorist events throughout the southern border areas of the country in which populations were subject to rocket attacks from Gaza.

Current outreach projects include 1) “the Sderot project” to provide Sandplay services to the victims of missile attacks in the town of Sderot which has suffered eight years of missile attacks from the neighboring Gaza strip in which members of ISTA and ISTA candidates are volunteering their time to provide service in Sandplay therapy rooms created by donations from Israeli and American sandplay therapists; and 2) the “Bedouin project” a preliminary project to extend the target of ISTA supported sandplay service and training to include the Arab community in Israel (and hopefully eventually also the West Bank) who are also victims of violence.