Therapeutic Puppetry 
Empowering - Transformative - Healing


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SUMMER 2023: Therapeutic Puppetry from a Dramatherapy Perspective 

Course Facilitator: Daniel Stolfi, PhD, MSc, MA Dramatherapy HCPC-reg. 

The aim of this workshop was to introduce and explore ways puppetry and puppet-craft can be used therapeutically in a range of settings with different clients keeping in mind many of the clinical themes and core ideas within dramatherapy and psychotherapy - for example: the subjectivities of trauma, attachment and loss, resilience, family dynamics, differing cultural values, the importance of play, spontaneity and creativity, and uses of metaphor. The sessions will incorporate arts-based, projective, symbolic, and narrative approaches and modalities and draw on themes and examples from a range of socio-cultural contexts. 

Each session was following a basic plan centred on: a thematic concept interfacing puppetry and dramatherapy, an experiential puppet-making and representational/performative activity discussion, reflection, and feedback.

Day 1: Introduction to Therapeutic Puppetry and Dramatherapy: Theoretical and clinical orientations, contexts, and settings. Key concepts. Some puppetry basics: 5 types of puppets. Craft, materials, and skills. 

Day 2: Puppetry and Stories 1 – the Individual: Exploring fairy tales and personal stories as narratives of self. 

Day 3: Puppetry and Stories 2 – the Collective: Working with folktales and myths to investigate group dynamics. 

Day 4: Puppetry as case study and ethnographic performance – bringing Individual and the Collective together: Using puppetry as a dramatherapy medium to work with victims of political violence and trauma. 

Day 5: Revisiting Creativity and the Imagination: Exploring further therapeutic dimensions of puppetry, improvisation, and play. Drawing things together – constructing a conceptual representation of the workshop’s central themes. Ending.

Daniel Stolfi, PhD, is a UK-based dramatherapist (HCPC-registered), a medical anthropologist, and the artistic director of The Awesome Puppet Company ( He is a Core Tutor and Academic Support Lead on the MA programme in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at Terapia in London as well as the organization’s Institutional Link Tutor with Middlesex University. Daniel is also the Anthropology and Aesthetics Module Lead on Brunel University’s MA in Art Psychotherapy in London, and an Associate Lecturer in Dramatherapy at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. He has been a visiting lecturer at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in the UK, and at NYU Steinhardt and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the US. Daniel has a specialist interest in the therapeutic uses of puppetry, and how our understanding and experience of suffering and healing are informed by and reproduce social and cultural value. He is active in education, training, research, and publishing in these fields, and has presented his work extensively at national and international conferences. 

The training took place in Olten, Switzerland in cooperation with the Swiss puppet therapy organisation FFT and the EDT Comission, UNIMA International.

SUMMER 2022 - A Person-Centered approach on Therapeutic Puppetry

Karrie Marshall from Scotland taught online for 5 days in July - August 2022. Her approach is person-centered. She shared her knowledge working with mental health care, with dementia in care settings, and with trauma clients. Outcomes for participants: Learn about the principles underpinning wellness focused care (B.I.C.E.P.S Model of connection). Increase understanding and practice of therapeutic metaphor work. Feel more comfortable about end-of-life and bedside puppetry approaches. Insights about life-story puppetry in life, death, and bereavement. Greater understanding of risk assessment and managing risk

Karrie is the author of Puppetry in Dementia Care, she has a background in health and social care combined with puppetry. She founded Zenwing Puppets, a touring theatre company with her partner Chris King. Karrie also founded Creativity In Care, a community arts organisation that uses inclusive and joyful approaches to wellbeing. She has developed several creative learning programmes for care staff, family carers and artists. Karrie runs Laughing Geese.

SUMMER 2021 - Puppet Play Therapy

Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S, RPT-S, was invited to teach on Puppet Play Therapy Summer 2021. Elizabeth is an Associate Professor in the Professional Counseling Program at Texas State University. They held the training online due to the Covid-19. 

The four-week online play therapy training series took participants on a journey of puppet play therapy skills and interventions with young children, older children, teens, and families. Participants learnt what types of puppets are a good fit for play therapy. In the interactive training, participants had the opportunity to create a puppet theater and different types of puppets each week of the training. Participants also learnt and practiced facilitative and directive therapeutic responses that can be used in puppet play, with an emphasis on how to respond in the puppet metaphor. The training culminated with a focus on family puppet play therapy. COURSE DESCRIPTION  REPORT


SUMMER 2019 - Expressive Arts Therapy & Puppet therapy

Matthew G Bernier was invited to teach for a week in Switzerland Summer 2019. Matthew is an art therapist, educator, artist, puppeteer, consultant, and doctoral student in Expressive Arts. He works as an associate Professor of Health Professions and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences in the Graduate Art Therapy & Counseling Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, United States. 

Highlights, among other things, were a historical overview of puppetry in therapy, puppet types, their construction and different possibilities, manipulation of puppets in therapeutic settings, and an expressive arts approach to therapeutic puppetry. COURSE DESCRIPTION REPORT 


Gary Friedman & Karrie Marshall in Gothenburg, Sweden

Lectures and workshops Sunday the 17´th and Monday the 18´th of November 2019 at Frölunda Cultural Center

Creating a sense of Belonging - puppetry for connecting beyond words 
Our sense of belonging can be threatened when we feel unsafe. This is the
experience of many people who live with a long term condition, such as dementia, or intellectual disability or mental ill health. The workshop will explore how we can use the arts and puppetry to create a sense of belonging. Participants will personalize glove puppets and create the spaces of belonging. No experience of art or puppetry is required. Participants: staff, family carers, artists and people living with long term conditions.

Workshop leader: Karrie Marshall, author of Puppetry in Dementia Care, has a
background in health and social care combined with puppetry. She founded Zenwing Puppets, a touring theatre company with partner Chris King. Karrie also founded Creativity In Care, a community arts organisation that uses inclusive and joyful approaches to wellbeing. She has developed several creative learning programmes for care staff, family carers and artists. Her work is recognised internationally. Karrie and Chris live in Scotland.


Breath, Belief and Trust 

The spiritual connection between the puppeteer, the puppet and the audience. This serves equally for puppetry in therapy; puppetry in theatre and puppetry in education. When I speak to you, you look into my eyes. The eyes are often referred to as the ‘windows of the soul’. When a puppet moves and breathes, the audience are focused on the eyes, even if it might only be the shadows caused by the single spot light, which creates an illusion of eyes. This makes the little creature come alive for an audience. The eyes and breath together, give it life. The audiences’ belief of ‘alive’ must be sustained, even if the puppet stops moving or breathing. This can only be sustained for a short time. As soon as the belief dies, the puppet dies too.  

Workshop leader: Animator, puppeteer and film-maker, Gary Friedman, developed international adult-education puppetry and film projects based on HIV- AIDS, Democracy, Corruption, Abuse and Prisons work. See:

Using Puppets with Children and Families 

in Diagnosis and Treatment

by Eleanor Irwin (PhD, RDT, TEP)

A lecture and a workshop the 16-17´th of June 2018. 



A 4-day workshop 

with psychologist and psychotherapist Gudrun Gauda

24-27´th of April 2014