Paolo Ferliga

Three Objectives – Subtle body, Sand-play, Counter-transference

This work has three objectives:

  1. To investigate the relationship between psyche and body, starting from the emotions and the concept of subtle body and somatic unconscious that Jung talks about in his writings on Alchemy and in the Seminars on Nietzsche.
  2. To present the new approach towards a new understanding of Sandplay Therapy suggested by Martin Kalff, who in the analysis of countertransference focuses his attention on the experiences of the body in which the psyche is embodied.
  3. To show that, thanks to Sandplay Therapy, a relational field (co-transference) is created between therapist and patient. In this field, psyche and soma tend to coincide as in the subtle body and the archetypal potentials of the therapist/patient couple are activated.

Emotions have some analogy with the subtle body, as they are characterized by feelings of a psychic nature, but also by states of bodily innervation of a physiological nature. Emotions are thus a bridge that connects feeling and sensation, psyche and body, spirit and matter, In his new method Martin Kalff, looking at the image left by the patient in the sand, invites the psychotherapist to always start from one’s own body sensations and emotions. Only later does he propose moving to the level of thought and interpretation. This is how the analyst's body consciousness (Schwartz-Salant) develops, which can facilitate the patient identification process. In fact, the Sandplay Therapy brings into play the patient's body, who uses their hands, but also that of the therapist who, in front of a Sandplay scene, reacts not only on a psychological level, but also on a body level. In the Sandplay sessions it is therefore possible to observe that the therapist and the patient communicate through the somatic unconscious, which Jung also calls the subtle body.


Paolo Ferliga is an Italian psychotherapist and Jungian analyst, member of AIPA (Italian Association of Analytical Psychology) and IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology). Former Teacher of Philosophy and History at the High School Arnaldo in Brescia, as well as Educational Psychology at the University Bicocca in Milan, he was trained in psychotherapy by Claudio Risé and in Sandplay Therapy by Martin Kalff and Maria Rosa Calabrese. For five years he participated in a supervision group on dream analysis with Dieter Baumann, grandson of Carl Gustav Jung. Paolo founded Campo Maschile, a research-action group exploring male identity, and chairs dream-related and active imagination workshops in Italy.


Presence and absence of the body in psychotherapy during lockdown, in Carpani, S. & Luci, M. (in print, July 2022). Lockdown Therapy: Jungian Perspectives on how the Pandemic Changed Psychoanalysis (London & New York: Routledge). He has edited Martin Kalff, Old and New Horizons of Sandplay Therapy. Mindfulness and Neural Integration (London and New York: Routledge, 2022).


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