Play Therapy Doll House Technique: Build a Childhood Play Therapy Dollhouse

by Play Therapy Student

I experienced a lot of resistance when I first sat down to design the play therapy dollhouse. I had to decide on which time in my life I would build the house for as we lived in a couple of different homes. My childhood was not all bad or all good, but building the house left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I was met with resistance every step of the way. I went back and forth as to which one I was going to build. Even as I was working on it, I was flooded with memories of that time in my life. I built the apartment from my teenage years. I lived there from the age of 13 until 19 when I left for college in the south.
I chose this time in my life because this was when it became clear to me what our family dynamic was and what role everyone played in it. As a child, things were not as clear. I felt things and understood what I could not articulate. However, as a teenager, I could write and talk about it, I could also try to ignore it or avoid dealing with it.
As a teenager all I wanted to do was leave home. In building the play therapy dollhouse, I was taken back to those feelings of being trapped and stifled. It did make me really appreciate where I am now and how much I’m in charge of my life, as opposed to where I was before.
The first couple of times I sat down to design the house, I could not follow through. Eventually I had to ask myself why I was resisting so much and what I could do to get past the resistance. One of the things that helped was actually admitting that there was some resistance to creating the house, and it was not just a case of procrastination.
Once I identified that I was experiencing resistance, I sat down with myself to investigate why I was resisting. Ultimately I discovered that it was because I did not want to feel exposed and vulnerable to critique. I did not want my childhood to be on display for judgment. Then I took the thought process a little further and thought about who was going to see the doll house and what was going to happen during class. I remembered that I was going to display this part of my life to my classmates, who were going to do the exact same thing. It did not seem as frightening once I realized who the audience was.
When I was able to overcome my fear of being exposed and vulnerable in front of class, I was able to get into the building of the dollhouse and deciding which features I wanted to show. I spent more time on decorating my room and getting the proximity right between the bedrooms. I chose to focus on this because it reflected how I felt in that apartment. I felt isolated, either by choice of circumstance. In the picture, I’ve placed my miniature in the window. That was where I spent a lot of my time when I was home. I would sit in the window and stare out of it waiting for the day that I would be able to leave home. I would look out on the activity happening in the street and wonder where everyone was going, what everyone was doing and why I wasn’t a part of the busy world around.

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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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