Approach to therapies

Puppets are special. Puppet therapy

Approach to therapies

Focus of therapies: castle, construction, manipulation, functions of the therapist.
There are some questions that are up in the air
when performing therapy or interventions with puppets. The teachers,
educators and therapists need to have clear answers.
  • Should the manipulation be face down or inside a small castle (puppet theater)?
  • Should patients or people with disabilities build puppets themselves or should they be given facts?
  • Should the teacher or therapist be involved in the making while the children also make their own puppet?
  • Is it necessary in the manufacture to orient them step by step?
  • Should the teacher or therapist be involved in the dramatization?
Below is a summary of some of the opinions and answers to the questions raised: 

Regarding the function of the castle or puppet theater:

According to Madeleine Lions,“The windshield of the
castellet often allows, the most shy people, the most
inhibited, to be able to say things of the unconscious that are the origin of the
problem. But we must be clear that speaking lightly but not healing. ”
According to Pierrette Salvage, “The main function of the
castellet is to delimit a play area in which the child will have to
all to be able to create. The castle represents the limit in some way
between real and imaginary life.
The castle also fixes an "inside-out", it is one
wrapper that protects the child from outside reality, and that allows the
relationship with others, through the puppet. ”
According to psychologist Alba Juanola, about psychodrama, she says:
“During the dramatization, sometimes the scene played in the
dramatic context, acquires intense emotional tension, which does not allow
to the patient to continue in the game. That's when the director has to
transport the scene behind the theater and continue with the puppets,
where you get a reduction in anxiety and a dissenting space, which
allows the protagonist to continue the scene without difficulty. Once
that this stage has been passed you can continue the game, face to face
face. ”
There are experiences that show that children
psychotics do not want to make the puppet appear alone (and they behind the puppet
castellet) they also want to be seen.
The castle can be a defense mechanism for the patient and the patient
therapist, but at the same time also in some circumstances becomes a
handicap due to the evolution of therapy. I think professionals should
to observe the variables that converge in the person subject to the
therapy (disability, current state of the person, purpose of the
session…) and decide whether or not to use the castle according to the
technical knowledge and intuition of the moment. 

As for the construction of the puppets

Making your own puppet certainly allows
a better projection of oneself on the object. The internal problems of
the person, the conflicts seem to stand out through the forms,
the expressions given to the puppets, evidence the reality by the
therapist as per the patient as he performs the character a bit like the
its double. 
Also creating a puppet evokes a whole range of emotions going on
from pleasure to disappointment. Despite the "technical" difficulties
which can be found, (the mismatch between what had been thought to do and
what has come out of our hands, the surprise sometimes happy in front
our realization, the weight of chance…), does not leave its creator
indifferent. There is always a feeling of rejection or possession. And all
these attitudes should be observed as therapy work.
Also the fact of building the puppet facilitates the manipulation
of this, thanks to the familiarity achieved during the time of
Technically I think the therapist or teacher should help the
construction of the puppet, in no case in the artistic part. It is important
that the educator set goals in terms of construction. Flight
leave the patient free to create their character? or conversely, Vol
guide him so that he is interested in discovering, for example, the parts of the
cos ?. All participation depends on the purpose of the activity.
According to B.Jost, “The puppets already built allow one
projection of the ghosts according to which ones the patient chooses.
But there is a danger that the person will be influenced by the attractiveness of
the fairy, the witch or others, and then it is not an internal decision
if not media, and the chances of results are more limited.
To diminish this influence it is necessary to have a large sample of puppets to choose from. 
There are also neutral puppets, ie
characters that do not represent a particular function. These look like
more interesting, as they allow situations to be staged quickly
own patient problems related to family, work, a
the school. In effect, the patient can define his own with the puppet
quality, its role, its function: father, mother, child, doctor; o
assign imaginary powers through the puppet she will baptize as a fairy,
witch, magician ”
It must also be said that it depends on the situation and the characteristics
of place waves perform the therapy, the construction of the
puppet by the patient. I'm talking, for example, about experiences in
hospitals where time and space are limited.
The issue is not resolved, some professionals prefer one
system or another for technical, practical or material reasons. Each
method has its advantages and disadvantages. 

As for the participation of the therapist in the dramatization

There is no one on this issue either
clear guideline. Some take on the role of observer for later
make the right decisions for the continuation of therapy, and there
there are those who are actively involved in the development of dramatization
to direct the action towards a specific purpose raised before the
Both behaviors can be beneficial for the child or the child
patient, as long as the therapist is not personally involved in
the affair.
Therapists need to create situations where they can
emerge on the surface of the subject's consciousness, manifestations
rejected from psycho-affective conflicts, but never participated as a
active subject. The theatrical distance that allows the
actors safeguard your self. If the therapy is not done this way
it would be counterproductive for the patient and the therapist.
It is essential that the person conducting the session master the
dramatic mechanisms of theatrical play to control the situation and get out
optimal results.
When considering a therapy, a learning assignment, or a
reeducation with puppets, if the teacher, therapist or educator does not have the
Proper training, it would be good to be able to enjoy the collaboration of
professionals who master the art of puppetry, to provide all the technique
necessary to achieve the objectives satisfactorily.
It should also be noted that a therapy must have one
temporal dimension. It has to have a time limit, it can't
continue indefinitely.
Like any other type of therapy, in the whole process, apart
When treating the disorder of the child or patient, the
problems arising in their immediate environment (parents, family, colleagues
I will end this section with a reflection by Mariano Dolci:
“The common feature of puppets is to demand
the following paradox: an object that is both and is not. It is
Of course what I see is a wolf, but it's not really a wolf,
because I see clearly that it is papier maché and cloth. This one
paradox must always be respected and maintained.
Knowing how to endure a paradox without wanting to solve it all
coast is the basis of human intelligence; is what makes the
symbol, metaphor, hypothesis, etc.… The mirror poses the same
problem: "What I see is me but not me."
The child does not manage to control this situation at once, because the effort required is considerable. 
In front of the puppets, the child sometimes goes from one end to the other
the other, with shorter and shorter oscillations, finally
accept the paradox and start having fun.
This is precisely what they are not in a position to do
many mentally ill. Some fall into "that's not it", they don't understand
because they talk with a piece of cloth in their hand and because they are given one
another to them.
They do not perceive any identity in these cloths and when they accept
answer, they always do it directly. Others, on the contrary, seem to fall
in the "is" trap and are surprised that their doll does not speak
alone, even asking him why he doesn't. ”

  • Madeleine Lions (Puppeteer). Paris. Marionnette et Thérapie Association
  • Pierrette Salvage (Psychomotorist). Puppet and Therapy Collection n.20. Paris. 1988
  • Ursula Tappolet. Geneva. Puppet and Therapy Collection n.15. Paris. 1983
  • B.Jost.G.Brossard. Puppet and Therapy Collection n.6. Paris. 1979
  • Mariano Dlolci. Puck Magazine No. 3 International Marionette Institute. Charleville.1992

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