by Play Therapy Student
Dollhouse and Miniatures for Doll House Play Therapy Technique
My play therapy dollhouse began as a play therapy class project, but ended as a labor of love. I didn’t quite know where to start, so I just started collecting “stuff” (copy paper boxes, cutting out pictures, shoe box tops, Styrofoam, fabric swatches, etc.). The stuff took over my dining room. But once, I got started, I couldn’t stop. The house cost approximately $15 to build. Though, I spent most of my life (16 yrs.) in the house I built, my grandparent’s home holds a special place in my heart. I included my grandmother as one of the miniatures in our home, even though she didn’t live there.
Allow me to introduce my family: My mother was the “mover and shaker” in our family. She is represented as a baby chick with a broken heart. As the youngest from a large family, the family dysfunctionality my mom experienced growing up is still painful for her today. My dad (stepfather) was a carpenter and is represented by the truck. He was kind person and loved my mother very much. My sister was my parent’s only child together. She is represented as a princess. I am represented as a puzzle piece. I didn’t feel like I fit in this home. I was more comfortable in my grandmother’s home. My grandmother is represented by the quilt. She often quilted with her friends. I was close to my stepfather and my mom was close to my sister. Over the years, my mother and I have become closer.
As I began building the house, I was surprised by all the details I remembered. I built ninety-five percent of the house from memory and the rest I updated. As the dollhouse began to take shape, I reflected upon my experiences there. The kitchen was the easiest and my favorite room to recreate, because we spent a lot of time there (eating, watching TV, etc.).
The most difficult room to recreate was my sister’s room. We are five years apart and I don’t have a close relationship with her. I didn’t know how to decorate the room to reflect her personality. My least favorite room was the garage because my mother spent so much time working there. She had an alteration business and she was always sewing. When we were growing up my mom worked a lot.
One of the things I noticed was that my room was located in the basement, whereas my parent’s and sister’s bedrooms were on the main floor. There were several things that I liked about the basement (coolness in summer and warmth in winter). I remember requesting to move to the basement. It may have been after I was blamed for my sister falling out of bed. I just wanted to be alone. I may have been conditioned to being alone from spending my first two years on the farm with my grandparents.
Another thing I noticed is that windows are important to me. All of the rooms in the play therapy house have windows. Even when I was running out of time, I elected to cut out a window instead of placing a picture in one of the rooms. Though, my room was in the basement it had a window. I am revived and inspired by nature. My current classroom doesn’t have a window and I think it negatively affects my productivity. I think this is a direct result of my early years on the farm.
Building the play therapy dollhouse was therapeutic for me. It allowed me to revisit aspects of my relationships with my mother and sister that continue to affect us today. I thought these feelings were resolved, but now, I’m not so sure. I plan to build a generic dollhouse to use with my clients. Building the dollhouse gave my inner child a voice. It was a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful, I didn’t wait until the last, last minute, because I would have cheated myself out of a healing experience.
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