Do you speak puppetry

Puppetry as an alternative form of communication

Farryl Hadari has been an educator in the field of puppetry for more than 30 years. She has initiated many puppetry projects... read more.

Puppets and Therapy

The language of puppetry is rich in visual symbols and verbal metaphors. In order for the person engaging in therapeutic work to use this language, he must know how to create it, speak it, understand it, respect its boundaries and use it to create a dialogue. Speaking puppetry in a therapy situation helps to develop tools for understanding others and engaging in an active dialogue, based on curiosity, using the signs and symbols presented by the puppet and the puppet story.

Puppetry offers a chance to create a visualization of the thinking process. Seeing one’s thoughts facilitates empowerment and initiates the ability to discover intelligence and feelings, thus, widening the horizons of understanding others.

A puppet represents a human being without being human. Thus, it is an excellent vessel for projection. Projection is attaching one’s feelings and/or actions to another person or object. The puppet creator or puppeteer endows the puppet with characteristics that reflect his or her inner view of human nature, self and others. Because the puppet is an inanimate object, it is a safe avenue for expression. It is responsible for all of the views and emotions it communicates, not the puppeteer. Using puppets to create stories initiates an avenue for inventing a personal metaphor. A story brings truths and imaginative forces of the inner world to a safe arena to be viewed outwardly by oneself and others.

The puppeteer who has created or selected a puppet does not necessarily know the details of the puppet’s character. A therapist needs to be skilled in techniques of interviewing the puppet aimed at helping the interviewer and the puppeteer discover who the puppet is. Questions must be based on curiosity, not judgment, in order to facilitate a safe place for creation and expression. The therapist must remember that puppet is not the puppeteer; however, it can offer insights, knowledge, and emotions that the puppeteer owns. The interviewer should carefully listen to this knowledge and explore it. She must also honor a contract of working in a “creative space”, which states that she is inquiring about the puppet, not the puppeteer. A “creative space” is a place where all of the inhabitants of the space feel free and able to create within it.

When the puppeteer personifies the puppet, he facilitates the creation of a psychological distance between the puppet and the puppeteer and between the puppeteer and the audience. This distance enables the puppeteer to step back to a “safe place” where he can examine behavior, opinions, emotions and reactions. The therapist can join in these reflections, which can provide a path for intervention. Intervention is an interference of involvement in a situation with the goal of modifying or altering a process in the situation.

Stories created with puppets can also provide an excellent arena for intervention and communication.

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