Student Services Overview

DATE: Friday, April 25, 2014
TIME: 1:30 p.m
PLACE: Room B, Ladera Lane campus
CANDIDATE: Karina McGovern Chace
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Fathers in the Sand: The Transformative Emergence of Archetypal Images through Sandplay"
CHAIR: Dr. Jennifer Selig
READER: Dr. Maureen Murdock

Chace, K.(2014). Fathers in the Sand: The Transformative Emergence of Archetypal Images through Sandplay (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)


The father-daughter relationship has a remarkable history, illustrated in literature, art, and rituals of both ancient and modern society. Yet, contrasted with other parent-child relationships, the father-daughter dyad has attracted limited attention.

This dissertation explores the phenomenological experience of witnessing six women express their life stories through sandplay. The sand worlds reveal the daughter’s archetypal reflections of her father, including the early death of father, a loss that occurred when the woman was a young adult. This study investigates whether common images arise in sandplay with adult women whose fathers died prematurely, and whether there are commonalities in how these women perceive intimate relationships.

Sandplay involves primal affects, and connects human beings with their childlike processes, opening the psyche to a realm that may not be available through other, verbal means. Jung calls this “the childhood aspect of the collective psyche,” but it is not confined to childhood, rather it exists at all stages of life (Stewart, 1995, p. 376). In the context of this research, sandplay opens up a dialogue between woman and researcher that is fertile with imagination and metaphor.

The witness provides the woman a shelter in which to create her sand world, and in this creation, the essence of a woman’s story emerges like tactile chapters from her personal chronicle. This leads to an organic dialogue that flows without the need for applied pressure from the researcher. As the witness sits beside the woman, acknowledging and valuing the world that has materialized, a participation mystique is formed.

The unconscious, a storehouse of primitive fantasies and memories, can be “a terrifying place in the mind until there is the therapeutic witness who values its discovery” (Goodman & Myers, 2012, p. 15). Contained by this uncommon mode of togetherness, one may feel protected and supported. This dissertation concludes that sandplay in the presence of a compassionate witness may serve as a powerful ritual in healing and transformation.

Keywords: Archetype, Daughter, Emergence, Father, Images, Sandplay, Transformation, Witness


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