After working as a play therapist, sand tray therapist, creative counselor, and school counselor for over fifteen years I have finally discovered the most effective way to work with my clients and students!
I have named this new play therapy "Shelter Therapy". It incorporates all of the above therapies and condenses them into a brief therapy that truly works!
With play therapy and sand tray therapy all types of materials and tools are required. It can take years to build your collection of play therapy toys and sand tray therapy miniatures. These tools can also take up a tremendous amount of space as well! And lets not talk about the expenses for purchasing all the materials.
With my new play therapy "Shelter Therapy" the therapist can start out with one "Shelter Therapy House". I have worked with a talented woodworker to build a regulation "Shelter House" that can hold the clients / students emotions in a safe environment of space.
By using "color psychology" these "Shelter Houses" allow the client / student to disclose their feelings and moods in a unique outlet. The "Shelter House" can be purchased in an array of colors to match the many feelings and moods of your clientele.
Another addition to the "Shelter House Therapy Technique" is the Warm Fuzzy Feeling Balls. These balls are generic feelings that the client / student can add to the house.
In using the "Shelter House Therapy Technique" the therapist can get to the source of the client's issues faster than any other therapy. It can be used for children, teens, and adults. This is a "Brief Therapy" that truly works.
Using a different Shelter Therapy / Doll House, the play therapy client can express what they are feeling. Each doll house is a different color and may represents a certain "feeling". The colors are grey (grief), blue (sadness) red (anger), yellow (happiness), black (fear), and green (jealousy or nature).
The shelter / doll house format of the house is brought to this activity by keeping the doll house shape simple and similar to the other doll houses. The front and back are open. There is no furniture in the shelter house / doll house. These items may be added later if the client, or student, chooses.
Basically, the play therapy client is building a doll house world from scratch. This is where the therapy magic comes into play.
Ideally, this is an excellent way to allow your play therapy client to custom build their own play therapy Doll House / Shelter House. The play therapy client will pick which colored doll house they wish to use as a play therapy activity.
After choosing the colored Shelter House / Doll House of choice, the play therapy client will begin to build the play therapy Shelter House world by adding warm fuzzy feelings (See link below), miniatures, clip art, and furniture.
Materials Needed for Play Therapy Doll House / Shelter Therapy House:
Regulation Shelter Therapy House or Play Therapy Doll House
Shelter Therapy Feeling Cubes (All Ages)
Fuzzy Feeling Accessories for Children
Alternate: Doll House Furniture & Other Miniatures
Directions for using the Play Therapy Shelter House / Doll House Technique:
1. Show the client, or student the play therapy Shelter House / Doll House, or Shelter Houses. Most therapist or school counselors start with one color of the Shelter House / Doll House and eventually add more to their collection. The ideal is to have a yellow, red, and a blue play therapy shelter house. This will allow the play therapy client which feeling house they wish to work in.
2. If you have a choice in your play therapy Shelter House / Doll House, allow the client to chose which one they wish to use. Note the color chosen, but always let the client translate what the color means to them. Never assume that you know the client's feelings based on a play therapy Shelter House color chosen unless they tell you what the color means to them.
3. Using the set of Feelers / Warm Fuzzy Feelings, allow the client / student to place them in the house. I always start out by asking the client / student to show me the "feelings" they have by placing the Feelers / Warm Fuzzy Feelings of choice in the house.
See the Feelers / Warm Fuzzy Feelings link below for more information on these unique play therapy tools.
4. Show the play therapy client your own collection of doll house furniture and miniatures that can also be added to the therapy process. You may wish to suggest that the play therapy client can build a play therapy Shelter House / Doll House world using the furniture, miniatures, or clip art.
5. Sit near the play therapy client to support them while they build their play therapy Shelter House world. Ask the client to tell you when they are finished. I often sit quietly with client while they build their house unless of course they want to talk while doing it.
6. After the play therapy client has finished building the world, ask them questions about the house, furniture, and miniatures. You may wish to have the client create a daily scene based on the miniatures that live in the play therapy Shelter House.
7. Pay close attention to the color of the play therapy house that was chosen and used for this activity. What does the color have in common with the furniture and miniatures that were chosen to go in the play therapy Shelter House.
*Continue to process the created play therapy Shelter House world with the client. Allow the client to be the ultimate translator.
This play therapy doll house activity is similar to using a sand tray. The only difference is that the play therapy client is using the play therapy Shelter House and dealing directly with feelings associated with color psychology.
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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