Independent Route Candidacy

Registering as an Independent Route Candidate is optional (not an essential requirement). However those who do register will be officially recognized as working towards ISST Certification.

Definition of Independent Route Candidate

An Independent Route Candidate (IRC) has completed the Qualifications for Training/Candidacy (below), is working toward certification by ISST, and resides in a country that does not have an ISST – recognized National Society in Sandplay Therapy.

Qualifications for Training/Candidacy

(Rules of Procedure, Appendix A)

Applicants for training are expected to show evidence of having the following qualifications:

  1. A university education as a medical doctor, psychologist, pedagogue, theologian, clinical social worker, or a specialized training in one of the humanities or social sciences.
  2. Knowledge of psychopathology, psycho-diagnosis and psychotherapy, which shall preferably have been achieved by formal study and applied clinical experience with patients/clients.
  3. Evidence of having had some in-depth inner development and insight, such as may be achieved in the experience of personal analysis or other disciplines leading to such developments.
  4. License to practice psychotherapy in countries and regions where licensure is required. Exceptions will be made under exceptional circumstances.
  5. Personal process in Sandplay Therapy with an ISST member for a minimum of 20 sessions.
  6. Courses in Sandplay Therapy (minimum of 18 hours) with an ISST teaching member.
  7. Agreement from ISST teaching member to serve as the candidate’s advisor
  8. Submission of “Application for Independent Route Candidacy.” 
  9. Official approval from ISST as an Independent Route Candidacy.

Application Process for Formal Recognition as an ISST Candidate

This application process applies only to those residing in a country that does not have an ISST National Society.

  1. The trainee contacts his/her country’s ISST Liaison/ Liaison Committee, where such a committee exists.
  2. If no Liaison yet exists the trainee should contact an established ISST TM through the ISST Secretary.
    The ISST Liaison helps the trainee identify an ISST Teaching Member willing to serve as the trainee’s advisor.
  3. The Liaison may also act as the IRC’s advisor, where appropriate.
  4. The trainee completes the “Application for Independent Route Candidacy, available from ISST Secretary at (email)
  5. If the candidate is known by fewer than three ISST Teaching Members and, therefore, cannot complete the section of the application that requires that the student’s candidacy be supported by three ISST Teaching Members, the advisor sets up an interview with the necessary number of Teaching Members (one of the three interviews may be electronic). Advice on necessary content of the Interview is Listed in 3. Below in the Role of the Advisor.
  6. The Liaison checks the trainee’s application to assure that it conforms to ISST Requirements and includes a yearly application fee of 40 Swiss Francs.
  7. The Liaison submits the application to the ISST Secretary at who then forwards it to the Developing Group Committee.
  8. Through the ISST Secretary, the Developing Group Committee (DGC) informs the country’s  Liaison, the candidate’s advisor, and the presidents regarding the outcome of the application.
  9. If the trainee has successfully completed the steps for Independent Route Candidacy, a congratulatory letter from the president(s) is sent to the new ISST Candidate.

NOTE re Membership of ISST

  1. Any fees in addition to the application fee are negotiated directly between the candidate and advisor/liaison/ or teaching member concerned.
  2. This Application does not guarantee Membership of ISST.
  3. This Application does not make the applicant a Member of ISST.
  4. Registering as an IRC does not guarantee qualification as a Certified ISST Candidate.
  5. Candidacy can be terminated at the discretion of the Board.

In Countries where there is no Developing Group/Liaison, the ISST Development Group Committee will appoint a TM to act as Advisor.

RRM: 5/10/2012 amended by the Board in Poland Aug. 2012.


Teaching Member’s role in relation to Independent Route candidates

IRC status is only available to trainees residing in countries without an ISST Society.

Application process for formal recognition as an ISST Independent Route CandidateIRC *

  • Trainee identifies a Teaching Member whom they wish to have as their IRC Avisor. Alternatively, they may contact the  ISST Secretary or an ISST Teaching Member for advice.
  • The ISST Liaison, ISST TM or DGC can help the trainee identify an ISST Teaching Member willing to serve as trainee’s advisor. 
  • The Liaison may also act as advisor where appropriate.
  • The advisor helps trainees plan the steps needed to become an ISST Candidate. 

*This application process applies only to those living in a country which has no ISST Society.

Role of the Advisor

  • The advisor checks the trainee’s application to assure that it conforms to ISST requirements for candidacy as laid out in the Rules of Procedure Appendix A. 
  • Letters of recommendation from three ISST Teaching Members regarding the trainee’s suitability as an ISST Independent Route Candidate via the Independent Route. The recommendations cannot be provided by the personal process therapist of the applicant.
  • The recommendations are sent directly to the ISST secretary after the IRC application form has been submitted.
  • When the application documents are in order, checked and signed off by the Advisor, the Independent Route Candidate submits their application form along with a CV to the ISST secretary. If the application is approved, the applicant becomes a IRC ISST.
  • The Advisor reviews the IRC’s progress towards certification at least annually.
  • The Advisor has to inform the IRC that Sandplay work must be supervised by an ISST Teaching Member and review this at their regular meetings.

Letters of Recommendation for ISST Candidacy must be from an ISST Teaching Member. The writing of a letter of recommendation is not to be taken lightly and authors should seriously consider their ethical and professional responsibilities in this undertaking. If the person writing a recommendation needs further information they are encouraged to ask the applicant for an interview.

The letter should give a description of how the applicant meets the personal and professional requirements of a prospective ISST member. The following information should be included as a minimum:

  • Capacity for commitment to a long and demanding training
  • Capacity to learn
  • Capacity to think symbolically.
  • Ability to engage constructively with criticism.
  • Evidence of insight into depth psychology.
  • A basic knowledge of sandplay eg. Reading of basic sandplay texts, attended conferences or seminars.
  • Have read and understood the ISST Ethical code