ISST Requirements

The requirements represent an absolute minimum which we hope will provide a common base for all practitioners who are interested in being part of our international organization.

“As a Teaching Member you stand as a direct link between Dora Kalff, the originator of our method and founder of ISST, and future members of ISST. This brings with it privileges as well as responsibilities. We trust that you will continue to grow and develop in your sandplay teaching practice and your preparation of students within the tradition of high professional standards promoted by ISST and outlined in this handbook.  We also hope that you will take an active part in the running and development of our society which aims to provide a container for our members and maintains our standards of training.” 

Alexander Esterhuyzen (President ISST 2019).

Some further background information of importance you:

Notes for ISST Teaching members

Please be familiar with the following information. If you have any questions feel free to contact your ISST Member Society ISST Board Representative or any member of the ISST Board, including the President.


ISST was formed by Dora Kalff and a small group of founding members. Our certification for membership continues to be the same as that originally prescribed by Dora Kalff and our founding members. We are also the only international Sandplay therapy organisation which is officially affiliated to the International Association of Analytical Psychologists.

The goals of ISST are:

  1. Promotion of the study of Sandplay Therapy.
  2. Propagation and dissemination of knowledge about Sandplay Therapy.
  3. Promotion of qualified standards of training and practice on the basis of ethical therapeutic conduct.
  4. Organization and execution of congresses and conventions.

The membership of ISST is made up of our ISST Member societies and independent members (in countries where there is no ISST Member Society).Please be aware that ISST lays out the minimum requirements for our trainees and members. ISST Member Societies may have additional requirements over and above those of ISST and you need to familiarise yourself with the requirements relevant to you.

The ISST Board is made up of The President, Vice President(s), Officers of the Board and Representatives of ISST Member Societies. Decisions are taken collaboratively and in consultation with the ISST Member​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​Society membership as well as through the General Assembly as required. The Gen assembly meets biannually at the ISST Congress.


In just two year’s time you will be in a position to act as a teaching consultant to other ISST members who are preparing for teaching member status, or indeed acting as adviser to independent route candidates, helping them to prepare for ISST certification. It may be helpful for you to have some understanding of the history of the teaching requirement document that you have been following in your preparation to become a teacher. Originally certification was, in the majority of cases, purely through an apprenticeship system and took place when senior members felt that an individual was sufficiently rounded, experienced and mature enough to represent best and undertake the task of teaching to an ISST standard. This promoted a process of slow and steady maturation, however it also seemed on occasions to be open to difficulties especially where seniors might have personality conflicts with a prospective teacher. It could also easily lead to different standards in different locations. In fact, a very similar system was originally in operation regarding basic certification as an ISST sand play therapist also. The requirements were introduced as an attempt to address some of these difficulties. They represent an absolute minimum which we hope will provide a common base for all practitioners who are interested in being part of our international organisation. We are not an academic institution and these requirements were never envisaged to be simply a checklist which leads to certification as soon as the applicant has performed one of each. We trust that your preparation will enable you to confidently represent our particular method of working. The requirements are also not intended to substitute for careful and thoughtful mentorship which enables students to mature and develop. It will now be your personal task to find a balance in the tension between simply fulfilling requirements and genuine development and maturation in your work with trainees.

The board also has a number of working committees which are important for you to know about. You should be aware of them through your receipt of minutes of the board meeting. They include: Certification Committee, Ethics Committee, Exceptions Committee, ISST Developing Groups Committee. If you need more information please feel free to get in touch with any Board member.

Code of Ethics

Please familiarise yourself with our code of ethics because it is your responsibility to ensure that your students and trainees are also familiar with it.