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Trauma Certificate Training Level II: Tools for Healing the Heart that Hurts: The Therapeutic Use of Puppets/Dolls Across the Lifespan

April 19, 2017 Breakfast 8:30am-8:45am   Training 8:45am-4:00pm , 6 CEUs Presenter: Joanne Vizzini, PhD Doubletree Hilton Hotel, 1726 Reisterstown Road Baltimore, MD 21208 United States + Google Map

Please Note: For this semester, this training is ONLY open to Level II Trauma Certificate participants.

The image of offering a hand up and out is germane in the therapeutic use of dolls and puppets where the client’s healing is literally at the client’s and the counselor’s fingertips. Dolls, including stuffed animals, are likely one of the oldest toys in human history and serve therapeutically as a transitional object between the traumatized client (childhood through adulthood) and their emotions. Puppets are simply dolls that can be manipulated to appear “real,” resembling human characters.

Therapeutic Puppet/Doll Use

Puppets or puppets used as dolls help clients of all ages to travel between their inner experience and the present world. In play with these metaphorical objects, there is regression in service of the ego that supports the disarming of the defenses and the ability to reach core issues of the trauma narrative. Childhood experiences and feelings can resurface and be projected within a protective framework. Lifestyle coping mechanisms can be consciously guided toward or replaced by alternatives that are more life enhancing. Suspension of disbelief allows both the client and the therapist to enter the world where fragmented and dissociated parts are given permission to have a voice. The somatic experience of touching and holding the puppet/doll allows the client to enter healing through their body and supports lowering anxiety, decreasing the flight/fight/freeze response.

Workshop Description

In this experiential workshop, participants will design a brief therapeutic puppetry/doll session. Each participant will develop a healing story and a believable character. The group will support each other in preparing a vignette appropriate for a client session. The vignettes will be shared with the group members. Participants will also experience a live puppet therapy demonstration with interactive style participation, process the use of symbol, metaphor and language in the therapeutic use of puppets/dolls, practice techniques for bringing a puppet/doll “to life,” view and critique taped vignettes of traumatized clients’ therapeutic use of puppets. Outcome data from the research of the presenter’s puppet therapy work with adults in chemical dependency treatment will be shared.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe regression in service of the ego when therapeutically using puppets/dolls and how to monitor safety to maintain ethical use.
  2. Gain a basic understanding of character choice and creating/supporting healing stories when using puppets/dolls with traumatized clients.
  3. Learn how to validate and support clients (aged 5 through older adulthood) in their healing process, activating metaphors, symbols and narrative while engaging in the therapeutic use of puppets/dolls.
  4. Learn how to elicit and strengthen the use of the puppets/dolls for alternative coping.
  5. Increase awareness and understanding of the trauma narrative and how to assist the client to reframe it.
  6. Name from the research shared how to get the best benefit from adult populations with puppets/dolls.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to notice suspension of disbelief, regression in service of the ego, spiritual themes, and healing through narrative in taped clinical cases.
  8. Describe at least one effective research study that addresses the use of puppets/dolls in psychotherapy and its basic outcome.
Play therapy with dolls
"[My clients] process things so much better using art, movement, and other experiential therapies." — Laurie D.