by Ania Farley
(Play Therapy Student for Play Therapy Class)
Play Therapy Doll House Final Exam Project - My Childhood Home
Building and decorating this play therapy dollhouse was one of my favorite assignments this semester for two very distinct reasons. One, it allowed me the opportunity to tap into one of my favorite therapeutic activities – interior decorating; and two, I was able to really experience the therapeutic process that the play therapy dollhouse will give to my students.
Initially, I did not anticipate this assignment being as demanding and time consuming as it turned out to be. I had a design in my head prior to starting the house, but once it was time to actually go into construction; the design changed a number of times. It took a solid 24 hours to construct this house and the inspiration for the design and decoration came from a variety of unexpected sources. I found myself being challenged to think outside of the box in an effort to save time and money. From sponges as beds to brushes as a sofa, this project definitely tapped into my creative side. Additionally, I used egg cartons and lids from bottles on honey as toilets, matchboxes that were hot glued together as dressers for the bedrooms. I have always wanted to be an interior decorator (a dream that was brought back to my attention after the inner child scrapbook assignment); and, after this assignment, I believe that I will be definitely be pursuing that avenue further.
I will admit that when we began the therapeutic exercise, I did not believe in its “power”. However, it did not take long for me to become a believer. I used different minis to depict my family. I chose a frog for myself – mainly because I like frogs and they symbolize transition (I have been doing lot of that lately). Mom was an octopus because of her ability to successfully multi-task about eight different projects simultaneously. Dad was the character “Robo-Duck” because of his line of work and his personality - he is a police lieutenant who maintains structure and order but always keeps us laughing. My sister was a dolphin because of its strong yet gentle nature and its agility in the water – she is an awesome swimmer and runner. My oldest younger brother was a turtle because has always been a little slower than the rest of us when it comes to making good decisions (but just like a turtle, he eventually gets there). And lastly, my younger brother was a little cub – mainly because he is the baby in our family and because he is someone that everyone wants to protect but when he is put in the face of danger, we realize that he is not as defenseless as we think him to be. My “therapist” did an incredible job at guiding me through the use of my minis and the replica of my childhood home - allowing me to get in touch with some feelings and memories that I had seemingly blocked out. After drying my tears, I now have a better perspective on my relationship with my family and the situations that occurred in my childhood that have deeply impacted why we, as a family, hold certain things in high value as adults – I doubt that I would have been able to do that without this assignment.
I hold this play therapy doll house assignment in such high regard and am forever grateful for the insight it has given me both personally and professionally. I am excited to continue to explore the things that were both uncovered and rediscovered and hope that the dollhouse experience will have an equally positively impact on my students as it did for me.
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