Dolls can be incredibly healing for children. They are a symbol of nurture and love. Unfortunately, not all children are loved and cared for properly. Children can use dolls as tools to process many issues of childhood. Some may cuddle and nurture the doll the way they want to be nurtured by a mother. Some may use dolls to act out and process trauma that they have experienced. They can also be helpful for processing family changes such as divorce or the death of a loved one.
Play therapy allows children to process emotions in a safe, comfortable way. They naturally communicate and process the world through play, so using toys in therapy brings therapy to their level. If you plan to use play in therapy, please seek training. There are different ways of using play in therapy based on the theoretical approach you use.
by Hello, Wonderful
These little mermaid dolls are super cute! They would be fun to add to your sand tray toys or allow kids to make them and take them home. Toys provide a creative outlet for children to process emotions and understand things they have experienced. Children will often take the toys and act out a scene that sounds a lot like something that I know the child has gone through. Having the right tools on hand can allow kids to process difficult situations in a safe way.
by Dr. Karen Fried
If you are doing play therapy online, you need to check out this free online dollhouse. It is very similar to the free online sand tray. This allows children to choose toys and drop them into the dollhouse. You can process the play the same as if they were using physical toys in the playroom.
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by Kiddie Matters
Worry dolls help kids manage anxiety by casting their worries on the dolls. For instance, if a child is afraid a thunderstorm will come you can have them tell the worry doll to worry about it while the child sleeps soundly.
by Kristina Marcelli
This is a great article on the power of play therapy and how to use language while the child is playing with the dollhouse to process the story behind the play. I love her "dream world" intervention.
by Adventure in a Box
Enjoy a free download with a diverse set of paper dolls for kids to play with. I love all the different colors and styles, offering kids many choices for kids to find a doll that looks like them.
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by Girls Go Games
If you are looking for online activities for telehealth, this game allows for online dress-up and dollhouse play. There are a BUNCH of other games to choose from on this site as well. They are free to play.
by Monica McGoldrick
Genograms can be helpful to better understand family dynamics and relationships. This idea uses dolls (or toys in general) to create the genogram to engage children. It is interesting to see which characters or toys are selected for each family member.
by Debbie Chapman
Coffee filter dancers are really pretty. The link will take you to a full tutorial on how to create these little dolls. These could be used in many ways. First of all, you have to follow directions in order to create them which helps with listening and communication skills. Secondly, they could be used in storytelling similar to using puppets. The third idea that comes to mind is using these dolls as a source of comfort. They could be used as worry dolls, a token to take from the counseling room, or as a reminder of the therapy session.
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If you are on a tight budget, you may like these dollhouses from Dollar Tree. You can get the houses or the furniture for $1.25 each.
I have had some kids that love setting up these paper dollhouses. Some just enjoy putting the stickers on the pages and designing how to put things together, while others enjoy setting the stage with the houses to use other toys. Some might use dinosaurs to tear them all down and some may put various types of families in them. These are great for therapists on the go. It's kind of hard to carry around a massive dollhouse!
by Sweet Briar Sisters
Animal families can be a great way to help children process emotions. First of all, it creates a safe barrier from reality. This emotional distance can reduce anxiety related to the deeply emotional situations they may be experiencing. I also like that kids will not worry about identifying with the characteristics of the doll such as hair color, eye color, or race. These patterns, along with many others, are available on Etsy.
by Adventure in a Box
Kids can learn about somatic symptoms, the fight or flight response, relaxation skills for tense muscles, or other specific anatomy needs with this paper doll set. It is a paid download, but a great concept.