Friday, 3 June 2011

Using puppets in drama therapy.

We sometimes use puppets when we work with our client groups. As the photograph shows, our
puppets are quite big, and very human-like.

Linda having a serious get together with some of the puppets...

When working with a lady who suffered from dementia, and had lost her speech, using the puppets,
allowed her to re-engage with her environment. I put the puppets on the floor, and looked away
from the lady, pretending to be busy doing something else. With her walking stick she brought
the puppet closer to her. Casually I put the puppet in her lap. She started cradling the puppet, and
when she discovered how to operate the mouth, she started singing to the puppet. Everyone was in
awe, as this lady had not spoken for quite some time, only making grunting noises. As the sessions
progressed the lady started to use her voice more and more. The puppets allowed her to re-engage
with her environment.

Autism – Aspergers
I found that people with an ASD diagnosis sometimes have difficulties understanding the world
they live in. They are often frustrated, as they miss social cues, and unwritten rules. They feel often
isolated. Using puppets they can create social situations in which they can let the puppets practice
different social reactions to problems. For example, what can a puppet do if it wants to play with
another puppet? How do you ask? How do you react when they say no, or do not want to play what
you want to? Having experienced different responses and outcomes, people with ASD diagnosis
can recall these memories when they come into similar situations. Having already practised how to
interact will help them connect with their environment.

Cognitive Impairments (e.g. intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, Cerebral Palsy)
Being able to show people what happened to them, without having to rely on oral language allows
people to look at their issues from a safe distance and express their feelings in a safe environment (it
is the puppet who is frightened...not me...). To see people finding closure to traumatic experiences
using puppets is very rewarding.

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