Filial play therapy is about engaging the parent—that is, bringing the parent into play with the child and becoming an involved participant (LeBlanc & Ritchie, 1999). Filial therapy may be used to teach empathetic parenting skills over time (Winek et al., 2003).
Creating a dollhouse together is an activity that can be shared between a parent and a child during a session. As parent and child create a home together, they are unconsciously building a deeper relationship, perhaps projecting their ideal home into their new creation. The therapist has access to a treasure trove of information as parent and child work together in this activity.
- A large empty shoe or boot box. The type that comes with the lid attached to it is ideal. If one of these boxes is not available, use masking tape to “hinge” the lid to one side of the box.
- Glue & masking tape
- Wrapping paper, construction paper
- Pictures, photographs, magazines that can be cut up, drawing materials
- Family figures, dollhouse furniture
Creating the Dollhouse:
- Snip both ends of one of the long sides of the box so that the side of the box unfolds creating an open area (see picture).
- Begin by decorating the lid and sides. Glue or tape wrapping paper/construction paper to cover the lid, the back and sides of the box. Glue or tape construction paper to cover the inside of the box giving the appearance of ceiling and walls (see picture).
- Open the lid in an angle to represent the roof of the dollhouse (see picture). Use masking tape to prevent the lid from closing down.
- Draw pictures, bring small photos, or cut little pictures found in magazines, and glue them to construction paper, creating a “picture frame”, and glue or tape these framed pictures to the walls.
- When ready to play, place small figurines and miniature furniture inside the house.
- Then, step back and become aware of where the figures have been placed in relation to each other.
LeBlanc, M., & Ritchie, M. (1999). Predictors of play therapy outcomes. International Journal of Play Therapy, 8, 19-34.
Winek, J., Lambert-Shute, J., Johnson, L., Shaw, L., Krepps, J., & Wiley, K. (2003). Discovering the moments on movement in filial therapy: A single case qualitative study. International Journal of Play Therapy, 12, 89-104.