Play Therapy Doll House Technique for Therapist from Play Therapy Class: The Doll House Final Exam
by Play Therapy Student
Play Therapy Class: Make a Doll House for Play Therapy Technique / Doll House Play Therapy Activity
The play therapy doll house that I remodeled was originally built from a kit. It is actually about 25 years old, yet it is almost a duplicate model of the house I grew up in on a farm in central Illinois. The front porch, the stairway in the middle, and even the attic reminded me of my old home. However, I wanted to focus on the surrounding outdoor yard area, which is why I added a 3 X 4 plywood base to mount it on. My brothers and I spent far more time playing outside than we did inside, simply because there was more for us to do with a huge sand pile, a tree house, a swing set, bikes, pets, and when we got older, three-wheelers and a motorcycle.
Almost every item I purchased either came from a dollar store, or from the clearance racks in craft stores. I did not have to buy any paint or sandpaper; I simply used what I found in our garage, left over from other home improvement jobs. The "biggest ticket items" were the base ($12), the furniture kit ($6.50), and the white flooring ($7). I spent a total of $42.00 on this project. Everything from the outdoor rocks, to the greenery, to the felt used on the roof came from a dollar store. The miniatures, the farm toys, the animals, and the toy dishes, were items I found in my toy closet from when my own sons were small. It I had had more time, I would also have made a miniature machine shed, silos, and barns, to complete my childhood home replica.
The "outdoors" part of my play therapy house included two trees, one used to have a small tree house, and the other was a weeping willow tree that we played around and climbed up all the time. The blue rocks represent a ditch that ran alongside my dad's machine shed, and whenever it rained my brothers and I would walk barefoot in it and ride our bikes through it to see who could make the biggest splash. The sandpaper obviously represents our infamous sand pile. We spent countless hours "playing farm" with our outdoor play farm equipment, where we pretended to be my dad, my uncle, and my granddad, who used to farm together. We always had cats and at least two dogs as pets, and they were never very far away. One of my fondest memories was dressing up our German Shepherd puppies with my doll clothes, and my friends and I pushing them around in my doll buggy : )
The inside of my play house included my own bedroom, my two younger brother's bedroom, the attic, our living room, and the kitchen. All three of us played musical instruments, so I also made my brother's room the "music room" which included a piano, guitar, & some electronics. In reality we also had a drum set, a flute, and a clarinet. My bedroom was a basic young girl's bedroom, with lots of Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, and a play kitchen. I used to love to explore in out unfinished attic, where my mom kept an antique trunk full of items from my great grandparents. It also became our "extra space" toy closet. We had an average family room, and kitchen-dining area, where many family dinners were made & served together. Our front porch was actually enclosed as we grew older, to become an extra play place for my brothers and I.
Thankfully my parents are still married to this day, and they have since sold the farm to move "into town" where they are closer to their friends/relatives. One of my brothers lives in IL, and the youngest one lives in FL. We all get together about once every two-three years, unless there is a family wedding or funeral to attend. I do see my brother, Ron & family, more often since he lives about 10 minutes away from my parents, and therefore we have always been closer.
Making this project brought back both good and not so great memories. Although I was blessed to grow up in a fairly normal home, it was not perfect, and my parents did make mistakes, like most parents often do. My dad was a workaholic, and my mom struggled with depression off & on as I grew up. Since I was the only girl, plus the oldest, I began to resent always getting asked to do what I felt like was my mother's work. (She also had about three major surgeries.) I did not mind doing some chores, since all three of us did share; however, by the time I was 13-16 years old, I became more social than my brothers did, and spent more and more time away going to my extracurricular activities, sports events, and dating. My mother eventually found counseling help for her depression, and my dad has already apologized to my brothers and I for not always being there for us due to the farm work demands.
From a therapeutic perspective, I can see how a play therapy doll house, or play house, might be a valuable tool to use with children or young students. Given enough session time, counselors could use this form of play therapy to work with clients from broken or dysfunctional homes. Similar to sand tray therapy, it is a method to see how the stages of play behavior impact the total mental health of the young person.
It represents another avenue "into" a child's mind. Whether re-inacting good memories, or a traumatic event, a play house can serve many purposes for a play therapist, along with an assortment of miniatures. I personally now understand the value of discovering my inner child through play therapy techniques.
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