What is therapeutic work with dolls? Its features and benefits


I never tire of seeing the surprised faces when patients and colleagues enter my office and see it filled with Playmobil. “You work with children, don’t you?” Is usually the question of both, but the face that is worth money is the one that remains when I say yes, that I work with children, but the space for these dolls is reserved for adults.

I have always had the luck, ability or experience (let’s call it what you want) to be able to look at my field of work from a very little closed vision, and this has allowed me to include super diverse methodologies and approaches in my sessions. The first time I saw work with dolls, I did not judge the methodology, but I was surprised that the professionals next to me had the answer to discard this option because they believed that people’s problems were too important to deal with with dolls. It is also true that this idea lasted for the first half hour of the training.

What does therapeutic work with dolls consist of?

I would like to start by explaining some basic things before going into the subject of the use of the dolls; this will help you understand why working with them works. Working with dolls is a process of projection, of turning into the dolls not only the current conflict situation but also expectations, values, beliefs, family loyalties, etc. Therefore, the unconscious works, and a lot, in those sessions in which this methodology is used.

The fundamental idea is that our unconscious does not understand time. If we work on something that happened in our childhood, our unconscious will experience it as if it were happening now because for it there is no past or future, there is only now.

Why is it useful in psychological therapy?

What the tool allows is to obtain a specific image, and you already know what is said: “an image is worth a thousand words”. And it is on this that the potentiality of the dolls is based; with them, the group or the patient can see their situation. Not only narrate it or tell it, but they are literally seeing the projected problem on the dolls.

As you can guess, this image can give information that verbally could be incomplete or not integrated in such a detailed way in the story to be worked on in the sessions. Small details such as the distance between the dolls or the similarities between them can give clues to understanding the personal or group history that is being worked on.

If we understand that the objective of our work as therapists is to accompany the patient in this process of removing what may be happening to him, the image that it designs would allow us to reformulate certain aspects of history in a more orderly and pacifying way, as it allows you to move the subject within the scene you have created.

The advantages of this resource applied to therapy

Let’s now see the advantages offered by this tool for the therapist.

  • The speed with which unconscious information is given. At a first glance, elements of great therapeutic interest can already be seen, which perhaps verbally were not so clear or immediate in their appearance.
  • Being dolls, it is easier to break down certain resistances in therapeutic work because you have the feeling of playing.
  • Given the diversity in races, ages, trades and other characteristics that the dolls present, it is easier for the person to find the archetype with which they identify, which will provide valuable information.
  • It allows a multitude of experiences and fields of action: decision-making, work, relationship, internal problems, etc.
  • It is a tool that allows dynamics in the sessions. The patient can see how they would feel about their changes within the image.
  • It is a very useful tool in facilitating emotional expressions.
  • It allows working on different levels of ecology from the macro to the micro level.
  • Its application includes practically all ages of patients.

I hope this little article has contributed to you either as a patient or as a therapist. The dolls are one more tool within the millions of possibilities that we professionals who are dedicated to well-being and support have.

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