Sock Puppet Making for Children with Trauma

3” x 10” (varied sizes) puppets

Purpose: Resolve past childhood/ family issues, leading to less anger and depression, greater self-esteem, security, and confidence.
Goal: Decrease statements of being a victim while increasing statements that reflect personal empowerment. Through work with the puppet, working with client to identify the positives and negatives of being a victim and the positives and negatives of being a survivor (this can come through specific dialog between client and puppet (who represents perpetrator). Encourage and reinforce the statements that suggest movement away from viewing self as a victim and toward personal empowerment as a survivor.

Therapeutic Properties of the Media:
“By creating stories through play, puppets function as a way of communicating with a child about a difficult or uncomfortable topic, such as death. Puppets also help to validate a child’s feelings of anger, fear, or sadness about the death without directly talking about the loss before the child is ready to do so…Children are responsive because of the engaging context, which fits with their developmental ability to understand play and communicate through it. Objects such as dolls, puppets, sandtray, and toys are used to assist children in externalizing their problems. The objects offer possibilities for exploring stories and their characters, while also assisting children in separating themselves from their problems so they may replace dominant stories with preferred narratives about their lives (Butler, Guterman, & Rudes, 2009)…. In summary, children also have an opportunity to express themselves through reenactment or verbalization of their experiences” (Armstrong, 2015).
“Puppets and masks allow for role play and exploration of thoughts and feelings. Clients are given the opportunity to project emotions, concerns, and ideas through their creations. Play-acting with puppets and masks allows clients to explore inner feelings and outer experiences. It helps them express issues that they might be inhibited to share otherwise. Masks may be created utilizing paper plates, paper bags, and construction paper. Art catalogs sell the cardboard outlines of masks for very reasonable prices. Cutting and pasting a variety of materials on a circular piece of cardboard or oak tag may form a paper collage mask. Materials – such as magazine pictures, newsprint, felt, sequins – and all types of textures – such as feathers, cotton and burlap – may be utilized” (Buchalter, 2004).
“The use of dual play with puppets allows for safe touching experiences, as the cloth is a barrier to direct touching. These examples illuminate types of touching, yet, importantly, they also … define… the boundaries of interpersonal space" (Hass-Cohen, 2015).
Armstrong, N. F. (2015). Creating space for connection: A column for creative practice. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 10(3), 324-338.

Buchalter, S. I. (2004). A practical art therapy. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Hass-Cohen, N., & Findlay, J. C. (2015). Art therapy and the neuroscience of relationships, creativity, and resiliency: Skills and practices (norton series on interpersonal neurobiology). WW Norton & Company.

  • Adaptations: Use other recycled materials, found objects from home and in environment.
  • Creative Options: Sew together larger fabric pieces, then cut up for all, so all puppets have an integrated piece/element.
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