Dora Maria Kalff: biography and contributions of this psychoanalyst

Dora Maria Kalff was a psychologist, follower of Carl Jung’s model of analytical psychology and also child psychiatrist Margarita Lowenfeld. and his world-class technique, so his way of working in psychotherapy was based on the development of a non-verbal space that allows the expression of the unconscious in a free way.

Moreover, he became popular all over the world due to the creation of his Sandbox or Sandplay technique; a tool used in psychotherapy since the 1950s to address unconscious conflicts, through symbolic representation by creating scenes with characters and a sandbox whose interior is painted blue to symbolize the sea and the sky.

In this Biography of Dora Maria Kalff We will see who this researcher was and what were the most important events in her life and what her Sandbox or Sandplay technique consists of.

    Brief biography of Dora Maria Kalff

    Dora Maria Kalff was a Jungian psychologist who became popular worldwide through the creation of her sandbox technique; a tool used in psychotherapy since the 1950s to address unconscious conflicts by representing the inner world of patients to help them become aware of certain emotionally or psychically relevant aspects of healing.

    First years

    Dora Maria Kalff was a psychologist born on December 21, 1904 in a small town in Switzerland., which is located 20 kilometers from the city of Zurich, called Richterswil. He had a complicated childhood due to a number of health issues he suffered during that time, which meant he couldn’t spend enough time interacting and playing with other children. That’s probably why she was withdrawn and quite introspective, sources say.

    In the academic field, Dora Maria Kalff has always stood out, because she has always been very diligent in her studies; on the other hand, he was fluent in several languages ​​other than his mother tongue, such as Latin or Greek, among others.

    Later, Dora Maria Kalff he went to London to continue his studies at universitydegree in philosophy.

      Meeting with Carl Jung and his wife

      Dora Maria Kalff continued her work and training when she first met Carl Jung and his wife, Emma, ​​at the age of 45. This meeting was very stimulating for Kalff and the marriage was pleasantly impressed. They therefore encouraged Dora Maria Kalff to continue her training in the field of analytical psychology. For that he would later enroll in a center that was a leader at the time, the Küsnacht Institute of London, founded in 1928.

      Specific training

      In particular, child psychiatrist Margarita Lowenfeld, who was very influential for Dora after attending a lecture he gave in 1954, which dealt with a therapeutic technique he had developed, known as the “world technique”. This technique was designed to help children express themselves through miniature figures; serving as an inspiration for Dora Maria Kalff’s later work.

      After this encounter, Dora Maria Kalff continued to train and research, taking a particular interest in the analysis of the language of the unconscious. In addition, he soon showed a great ability to take care of children in particular, which Jung and his wife witnessed, so they encouraged Dora to focus in particular on therapeutic work with children, and it was the first step towards the development of your therapeutic sandbox model. .

      At the Küsnacht Institute, Dora Maria Kalff studied for 6 long years, received a good education and during which she met very important people in the field of psychotherapy such as DW Winnicott or Mr. Fordham, among others.

        Return to your home country

        When Dora Maria Kalff returned to Switzerland, he set in motion the development of the technique by which he became famous, the Sandplay method or the sandbox, based on the influence of Carl Jung and Margarita Lowenfeld. His idea when developing this technique was that there was a fairly noticeable correlation between what the children were doing with the toys in the park sandboxes and a number of concepts raised in Jungian theory.

        In 1966, he published a book entitled “Sandplay: A Psychotherapeutic Approach to the Psyche”, in which he spoke of the therapeutic method he had developed, focusing mainly on child psychotherapy.

        On the other hand, it should be mentioned that Dora Maria Kalff He was interested in Eastern philosophy and more particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and Taoism., which influenced his attitude when working in therapy with patients. Additionally, he has written a book on these topics titled “Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism,” which can be used to further his understanding of the sandbox technique.

        The Sandplay method was becoming more and more popular, so Dora Maria Kalff had to travel through Europe, America and Japan in order to train new therapists so that they could apply her method. Moreover, in the 1980s, he met several professionals specialized in his method in order to continue to promote this method and this led to the need to develop a more formal structure which could allow the practice in a more standardized way and thus facilitate their study by other professionals and students.

          His legacy

          Dora Maria Kalff died in her home country in 1990leaving a remarkable legacy in the field of psychotherapy, since his famous technique of the sandbox or Sandplay is still used today all over the world.

          In addition, an international Sandbox therapy company has been established. It was founded by her in 1985 in the city of Zurich and is still in operation today. At its headquarters, future professionals trained in the management of the Sandplay method are trained.

          What is the Sandplay method?

          The well-known Sandplay method or Dora Maria Kalff sandbox is designed to be applied by a qualified professional who, before being able to apply the sandbox to other people, should have previously undergone this therapeutic process. In addition, this professional must be a psychologist, psychiatrist or doctor, and this is the minimum requirement to qualify for the management of this method.

          On the other hand, the Sandplay method was developed in order to access content from the unconscious level of children and adults. To implement this model, a wooden box and a series of figures are used that the participants must choose and offer in the most complete way possible, so that it can be a representative sample of all beings , animate and inanimate, that we could find ourselves both in the outer world and in the inner world of the imaginary.

          It should be mentioned that the sandbox, despite what may seem at first glance, is a fairly simple tool, since it is simply an ordinary tray or box that should be filled with sand without it does not overflow. Then, when conducting a session with a patient, this You must start by selecting a series of figures and objects to represent a series of scenes make them as close to your dreams as possible.

          The psychotherapist must encourage the development of a facilitating environment for the patient to open up when using both the sandbox and the figures to express themselves and thus show possible dreams, conversations or any imaginative representation that might show something relevant.

          While the patient performs this performance, the therapist must be able to observe without intervention nor to make an interpretation or an analysis of what he does with the numbers. Instead, the therapist should pay attention to what the patient is saying during the performance in order to decide, based on what the patient is saying, whether an analysis is necessary.

          Bibliographic references

          • Bradway, K., & McCoard, B. (2006). What is sandplay. Journal of Sandplay Therapy, 15(2), p. seven.
          • Kalff, DM (1991). Introduction to Sandplay Therapy. Journal of sandplay therapy, 1 (1), pp. 1-4.
          • Kalff, DM (2003). Sandplay: A psychotherapeutic approach to the psyche. Temenos Press.
          • Quiroga, MP (2015). CG Jung: Life, work and psychotherapy. Bilbao: Brouwer descent.
          • OnlineSánchez, T. (2003). Psychoanalysis and Psychology: Convergence or Confrontation. Madrid: New Library.
          • Yamanaka, Y. (2016). Dora Maria Kalff and me Special memory. Sandplay Therapy Archives, 29 (1), pp. 117-120.

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