Doll Making in Art Therapy

Last week, first-year MPS Art Therapy students learned about making dolls. Dolls have been used throughout history as healing devices, scared items in religious ceremonies, and as representation of gods. They were not toys for children like they are in some cultures today because they were thought to be magical and powerful.

In art therapy, dolls are used for healing as symbolic vessels and transitional objects. Dolls create a holding space for an individual’s emotions, as well as a tangible item to enact fantasies.  Clients can project their thoughts onto the doll and share them with the art therapist during sessions. Having a doll as a metaphor to talk through makes it easier to share one’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

There are so many methods of creating dolls. In class, the students were able to make wish dolls without sewing a single thing! The name “wish dolls” comes from the ability to make the doll with a certain intention, or wish, for the creator. The students wrote down on a piece of paper something that they hoped for, crumpled it up, and used that paper as the inside of the head, which they then wrapped fabric around. In addition to the paper and fabric, the students used yarn, hot glue, beads, and other embellishments to create the wish dolls.

Written and compiled by SVA MPS Art Therapy student Ceara Genovesi (Class of 2020)

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