Margaret Lowenfeld, was pioneer of child psychology and originator of the "World technique". She was founder of one of the first psychological clinics for children. She worked with what was called the "Wonder Box" This box contained a collection of miscellaneous material of different colours and shapes, beads, small toys, paper shapes and matchboxes. [She was inspired by HG Wells book "Floor Games"]
Later she added two zinc trays one with sand, one with water. Then she developed a cabinet containing small miniature objects which became known as "The World". The contents of this special cabinet were seen only when the drawers were pulled out separately which did not allow all the objects be viewed at one time. The child was asked to "Make a picture in the sand", by using any or none of the objects in the cabinet.
The children were carefully observed by staff, whose observations were recorded on case sheets. These therapists were randomly assigned to each child at each visit, often children went to "session" two to three times a week. Lowenfeld believed that the therapist was a fellow explorer and equal friend, who worked together with the child at the study of the child and at the child's pace.
Lowenfeld's first book published in 1935 is called "Play in Childhood". Her second book was published in 1979 [six years after her death] and is called "The World Technique".
Dora Kalff is acknowledged as the "Mother" of Sandspiel or Sandplay. Kalff recognised that sandplay provides a natural therapeutic modality for the child, by allowing the expression of both the archetypal and intra-personal world, as well as connecting the child to outer everyday reality. The blending of these dimensions within a safe and protected space which is created by the therapist, encourages images of reconciliation, wholeness and re-establishes the vital connection between the ego and Self. Kalff theorised that once the ego-Self axis is reactivated, the child would be able to function in a more balanced and congruent manner.
After many years of observing children in sandplay, she realised that sandplay could be beneficial for adults also.
Erik H Erikson
Erikson was the originator of "Dramatic Productions Test" [DPT]. This process used miniatures in a defined space as a means of understanding human development. He was born and grew up in Germany, He moved the USA and became one of the first child analysts on the East Coast.
Charlotte Bertha Buhler
Charlotte Buhler was the originator of the "World Test" which later became known as the "Toy World Test". She compared how children from various cultures used miniatures toys within a defined space. The world test consisted of 160 tiny miniature toys contained in a box. The toys were grouped in ten categories.
Buhler's cross-cultural findings emphasised the importance of considering the profound national-ethnic as well as individual differences in viewing the creation of a sandtray. By remaining alert to the subtle or overt manifestation of the clients cultural background in the tray, the therapist gains an understanding of what is being expressed from a deeper layer of the psyche.
Hedda Bolgar and Liselotte Fischer
Hedda Bolgar and Liselotte Fischer were the originators of what became known as the "Little World Test". This was a test for adult clients containing a specified number of miniatures and categories but no sand was used.