Sandplay for Life

At this point in my life:

Catherine Hartshorn

I am interested in working with people who want to realize their dreams, who want to accept and understand their limitations yet not be hindered by them, and who want to be responsible for their thoughts, their feelings and their lives. That is what interests me in my own development and in my work with others.


Personal History:

I am an experienced psychotherapist; I have had a private practice for over 35 years. I am also an experienced patient; my first round of therapy was in my twenties when I was divorcing my first husband, learning to be self-sufficient, getting a Ph.D. and raising two young sons. My second round of therapy was twenty years later after I kept running into myself -- achieving success without finding happiness.


I can’t say I’ve got it all figured out, but I have found satisfaction and pleasure in life, with an underlying drumbeat of happiness. Not always hourly, but at least daily. Happy to be who I am, happy to live where I do, happy in the work I have created. From my own difficult childhood and early adulthood, I have gained a measure of wisdom that allows me to offer you a space in which to harvest your own experiences and manifest your own dreams.


Work History:

People started coming to me for help and advice when I was in sixth grade, but I didn’t get paid for this gift till I was in my thirties and licensed by the state.


At 14, I worked in the bowels of Mercy Hospital on the food line, dishing up soggy vegetables and custard for the patient trays as they passed by on the conveyor belt. I moved to a more skilled job in high school and college – life-guarding and teaching swimming.


My first professional job was teaching high school Spanish. I hated the drills of conjugating verbs, but enjoyed responding to students who confided their problems to me. So I went back to school to become a psychotherapist.


My interest was the internal life of the individual. I experienced Sandplay as a client; I was hooked on the thrilling mixture of analytic thinking combined with mystery and beauty. I used its power to reshape my own life.


I worked for ten years at the Counseling Center at UC Berkeley, doing brief therapy, crisis intervention, and as the trainer and liaison to the residence halls for all mental health issues. I taught a Counseling Skills course in the School of Education, and also was an Adjunct Professor at the Wright Institute where I supervised the clinical work of Ph.D. students. I taught a required course for the Certificate in Project Management at UC, Extension, and was on the teaching staff for the summer Executive Program in Organizational Change at the Stanford Business School.


My experience as a powerless child in my particular childhood family made me want to understand more than just the internal life of the individual; I wanted to understand the individual in groups, especially where authority and power were present.


I joined a small organizational consulting firm. We did long-term work with companies, helping managers understand how to hold together the hard and the soft, the steel of production with the fragility of human experience. The leaders we worked with created award winning plants where people liked coming to work.


And now I want to do Sandplay work in all its iterations – deep internal exploration so you can manifest your dreams, and as a tool for leaders and their teams so they can create engaging workplaces.


I love my work, and my history, experience, kindness and training make me very good at it.



University of California, Berkeley, Doctor of Social Welfare (1978)
     (DSW was renamed to Ph.D. in 1988)
University of California, Berkeley, Master of Social Welfare (1973)
Stanford University, Master of Arts in Education (1965)
Stanford University, Bachelor of Arts (1964)



Licensed Clinical Social Worker, California State License (LCSW 6362)
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, California State License (LMFT 8394)
Association of Certified Social Workers, Diplomate



A Decade of Evolution in a Refinery Laboratory, National Productivity Review, Spring, 1998.

A Humane Workplace is a Productive Workplace, National Productivity Review, Winter, 1997.

Scholars in the Making, Chapter Author, Katz and Hartnett, editors, Ballinger Publishing Co., 1976.

Toward Faculty Renewal, Data compilation and analysis, Gaff, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1976.

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