play therapy doll house example
The play therapy doll house experience was more than what I thought it would be for me personally. I began by thinking about what I would make my house out of. I wanted to make a house that I could use in the future as counselor, but changed my mind as I started making the house. Since this was supposed to be modeled after our childhood home, I opted to make one out of cardboard boxes since I might not keep it. However, I am making another house out of scrap plywood to use in my future practice. I did make furniture that I would like to use again, which included bedding and pillows that I sewed.
When I began to make the house, I felt confident in what I was doing. Many of my childhood memories are good. The longest I lived in one home, as a child, was the one where I lived with both of my parents, sister, and maternal grandmother. For the most part, I remember having an active childhood with many friends. My mother always had me in an activity, such as gymnastics, which I adored. However, I realized during this process the happy parts of my childhood ended in this home.
My life changed in that house. When I was ten, my parents finalized their divorced and my grandmother passed away all within the same month. One year from that we had to sell the majority of our furniture and possessions to move out of that house and into a small condo. All of this was because my father filed for bankruptcy, which meant we lost our home. My father had made poor business decisions and had a lean against our home. Even though my mother was awarded the home in the divorce settlement, his bankruptcy possessed our home. He also refused to pay child support and my mother had to work nonstop to make ends meet.
From that point on, I spent most of my time after school alone. I came home to an empty house and cooked for myself. My mom worked at night to earn more pay. My sister stepped in as a parent, but she still went out and had her high school social life and the freedom of now parents around (she is six years older). So many days I came home, did my homework, and ate by myself in front of the television. This is why the house I made had a large television and coffee table. I can remember sitting there for so many hours by myself.
My father also remarried and walked away from having a relationship with me and my sister. From the time my parents divorced until the age of sixteen, I saw my father about five times. I only talked to him on my birthday and at Christmas during that time as well. The last time I saw him was when I was sixteen, and have only talked with him once since then. He completely gave up on having a relationship with me even though I was open to letting him back into my life.
What was interesting about making the dollhouse was I thought I had put all of the pain from those years away. As I began to recreate the rooms, I felt sadness about my childhood. That is when I knew I did not want to keep it. The house was also very formal and not very kid-friendly as I tried to recreate with the wallpaper. There were rooms we were not supposed to go in, in fear of messing it up. I also tried to recreate the bathroom that I shared with my sister. It was wall to wall pink, including the tile in the bath. My sister and I had many a quarrel in that bathroom, hence the age difference.
Overall, I got a lot out of this experience. I realized I need to deal with this time in my life more. I also know that things could have been worse, and grateful that they were not. It is amazing what memories this experience brought up for me and I can see how useful this tool is for future clients. I also reconnected with a hobby I loved as a child which was sewing. I really enjoyed making the bedding and can see myself expanding to other sewing crafts as an outlet.
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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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