Can Puppets Be Healing?

When I think of puppets, this is the first thing that comes to mind: (also the first thing that comes to mind anytime I hear someone say “phenomenon”)

As it turns out, puppets aren’t just for cooking ‘ze stew stew!’ or cracking jokes from the rafters of an opera house.

Puppets can play an important role in play therapy, as a safe and playful way to practice life skills and explore feelings. A puppet can be an extension of one’s self, bridging the gap between inner and outer reality. While play therapy is generally for children, who may not have developed the language to explain their world; many adults who have experienced trauma can also benefit. Being in charge of the puppet allows the ‘puppeteer’ to experience control, recreating their world and inviting others into it. Role playing with puppets allows individuals to practice communication and decision-making in a non-threatening way.

Puppets in play therapy can be directive (“now try having your puppet ask me the question!”), or more client-centered (following whatever the client does). The ‘silliness’ factor pulls clients out of their shell and gives them space to be playful, and the therapist can use a second puppet to reflect the content of the client’s puppet.

Of course, sometimes the puppets need their own therapy…

Kate Beever

About Kate Beever

I am a board-certified neurologic music therapist and owner of Maine Music & Health, which provides services and consulting to healthcare and arts agencies throughout the state.