“The dolls became a connection between the mothers and their children and created a magical moment of being little and playing again.”
During the month of July 2015 the Parenting and Child Development offered an orientation for new families enrolled in the program. This orientation included a series of workshops each week which introduced parents to the five program priority areas: attachment, security and separation; language and literacy; exploration, play, and learning; self-regulation and emotional development; and connections to resources.
Below, LSA’s mental health counselor, Mónica Sánchez, writes about the very moving workshop on attachment.
Dollmaking Helps Parents with Attachment
I was invited to work with Miriam Peña and sister Deisy Martinez to develop an Attachment workshop for parents in the Parenting and Child Development program. We used art therapy applications of dollmaking to connect clients with childhood memories, to process loss and grief, to give clients a sense of gratitude and forgiveness, and to help them heal themselves through the process of creating a spiritual doll.
I often use art therapy to help mothers at LSA to explore and process meaningful past experiences in order to facilitate a healthy attachment with their own children. Art therapy is a non‐threatening approach to help clients with trauma, depression, anxiety and other issues, to express and release intense and painful feelings. The goal is to create a safe space where clients can establish the ground for the healing process to take place.
The parents – in this case, all mothers or grandmothers – were each asked to create a doll connecting with a happy memory from childhood. Dolls were intentionally created with simple materials and the idea was to give the parents the space and materials to create something beautiful.
At the end of the workshop we asked clients to give a name to the doll and tell us something about her. The names and the stories about each doll told by the clients were remarkable, beautiful and touching. Clients got in contact with their femininity, with gratitude to their grandmothers and mothers. They created dolls that brought to life the names that they -the mothers- wished they were called, the doll that they never had in childhood, the daughter that they could not have, the companion that they wish to have. Most importantly, the dolls became a connection between the mothers and their children and created a magical moment of being little and playing again.
Learn more about the use of dolls in art therapyy:
Art Therapy Applications of Dolls in Grief Recovery, Identity, and Community Service (Feen-‐Calligan, H., McIntyre, B. 2009)