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Dissertation Title:

Encounter with Shadow in Sandplay: Women, Addiction and the Dark Feminine


Molly Miller

Date, Time & Place:

December 16, 2020 at


The purpose of this research is to explore archetypal themes underlying alcoholism in women. Using a case study method, it explores the effectiveness of sandplay therapy for women by asking the question: how does the presence of symbols of feminine shadow contribute to the emergent transformation process in sandplay for women with addictive disorders? After a preliminary presentation of relevant studies of women and alcoholism, the study explores the theme of descent to the Dark Goddess through the sandplay journeys of four women. It suggests that the stigma of alcoholism does not stem from their drinking but from the shadow of trauma and its effects. The study explores the archetype of the Dark Feminine as it appears in all the series as a harbinger of healing and transformation as the sandplay work accessed the deeper layers of the unconscious. The Dark Feminine archetype, in varying forms created a tension of opposites and a holding of trauma which served to transform the imbalances between masculine and feminine energies as well as create an opening for the emergent Child archetype, the rebirth of wholeness and innocence.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Psychotherapy, Track T, 2012
  • Chair: Dr. Sabine Oishi
  • Reader: Dr. Barbara Lipinski
  • External Reader: Dr. Geri Grubbs
  • Keywords: Women, Sandplay, Alcoholism, Addiction, Dark Feminine, Trauma