The purpose of this mini-dissertation was to explore and describe how first sandtrays are useful in facilitating the operationalisation of Ungar’s diagnostic criteria for resilience among rural SiSwati-speaking South African adolescents. The study forms part of continuing investigation at the Centre for the Study of Resilience with regards to the nature of school-based Educational Psychology services in remote South Africa. My study draws on a subset of data that was generated when a group of Educational Psychology Masters students worked with a group of Grade 9 students at a rural school in Mpumalanga. I performed a qualitative secondary data analysis of the documentation obtained from the first sandtrays completed by 50 male and female Grade 9 learners as part of the psycho-educational assessments conducted in the 2015 Flourishing Learning Youth project. A qualitative exploratory design is used, and within this broad approach, I conduct a secondary data analysis to explore how first sandtrays are useful in facilitating a resilience diagnosis. The documentation relating to the first sandtrays includes visual data (photographs), client narratives and MEd (educational psychology) student reflections. A priori categories, which come directly from Ungar’s diagnostic criteria for resilience and relevant literature are used to categorise the coded data. The results showed that first sandtrays are useful in facilitating the operationalisation of Ungar’s diagnsotic criteria for resilience among rural SiSwati-speaking adolescents. Indicators of both individual and interpersonal risks and resources emerged during data analysis. Evidence from analysis of first sandtray documentation showed risks including adolescent life-stage, family violence, lack of safety and structural disadvantage. The most common of these was lack of safety in the community. Protective resources alluded to included personal strengths, supportive family systems, supportive teachers, community attachments and sharing of resources, supportive community structures, cultural values of Ubuntu and spiritual support. The findings indicate that first sandtrays can be used by the educational psychologist to diagnose resilience, and may be particularly useful in a multilingual and diverse context such as South Africa to understand which resources need to be sustained and which resources are absent and need to be amplified.