Putting All Our Parts and Feelings Together 


These Animal Nesting Dolls are my new favorite play therapy tool! I went to the Ohio Association for Play Therapy Conference a few months ago and Francis Waters presented on Dissociation and Complex Trauma, she was amazing and we learned so much from the training. So in the training she discussed how nesting dolls can be a great way to work with clients who have complex trauma and dissociative symptoms. They can be used to help them understand about all their parts needing to be together as one.  On a basic level they can also help kids understand that we have lots of feelings and we need to help our feelings be calm and come together so we can be calm.

So on Amazon I found these great animal nesting dolls! (They also have cats, ninjas, and many other creative ones) I liked these best as most of my clients are 3-7 years old.

There are many great things you can use these for. One of my clients helped me come up with an intervention that we talked about how each animal can represent a different feeling in us and that we need to help the animals work together and get calm so they can fit back together. We use different coping skills for each animal to help them calm and then put them inside each other. You can also have the child create calming choices for each animal that they think would help them. I have some clients that now like to use these weekly when we begin sessions.

A feelings thermometer can also help to identify how much of the feeling the child or the animal is experiencing.  They can relate to having to use more than one coping skill or many deep breaths when the feelings are really strong.

I have also used feelings faces or pictures to represent each of the feelings so the child has a visual representation. There are many more things you can do with nesting dolls and they’re so great!

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