Therapeutic Puppetry 
Empowering - Transformative - Healing

The list below is not complete. Contact us if you have suggestions of information that can be added. You find literature from these practitioners on the "Literature" tab. 

Aronoff, Mickey

Mickey Aronoff began working therapeutically with puppets in hospital in United States in the early 1970:s. She empazises puppetry as an artform in its own right that can provide an effective expressive medium in therapy. Also that practitioners in therapeutic puppetry need to be effective with both therapy and puppetry. 

"The client-puppeteer, whether in individual therapy or group work, can be seen as director, actor and audience simultaneously. Here, puppetry´s advantage over other methods is its safe indirectness: one can rehearse for ´real´ life....."                                                                  

(Aronoff in Bernier & O´Hare 2005, p.119f) 

Bastsic, Zlatko

Beardslee, William     

William Beardslee, MD, is a Professor in child psychiatry at Children´s Hospital Boston. He has written a great lot of articles and two books. For example one article about puppet therapy with pediatric bone marrow patients is written together with Susan Linn. His main focus of research is depression in children and how to work with them in a family setting. He has developed a intervention for these families called Family Talk, more info at:

Beckh, Erica: 

Erica Beckh along with Jenkins believed that handpuppets like Caspar where vigorous and expressive, but a bit more complicated and require more skill. Therefore they emphasized the use of finger puppets, according to them the simplest of all the puppet family. They also meant that puppetry was most useful from 5 to 11 years of age. Individual treatment was their main interest.

 "...all should find in puppetry a vital, dynamic and flexible medium for work with children.(...) It takes children at their level and in their language. It gives them the opportunity to release in dramatic action those things they feel but cannot or will not express in words." 

                                                                              (Jenkins & Beckh 1942, p.119 in Schaefer & Cangelosi 2002)

Bender, Lauretta:

Together with Adolf G Woltmann she worked at a child psychiatric ward in New York in the mid 30:ies. They had a psychoanalytical appoach using handpuppets in plays with emotionally disturbed children 2-16 years of age. Adults could play and the children interact and discuss before / after the play. They also used Caspar puppets a great lot having interpretation-ideas about the characters. About handpuppets:

"...they are more direct in their actions, more convincing in their movement and capable of more aggressiveness than the string marionettes"                                     

                                                                       (Bender & Woltmann 1936 in Bernier 1983) 

Bernier, Matthew G:

Matthew is a art therapist and educator, artist, puppeteer, consultant and doctoral student in Expressive Arts. One term of interest he has lifted up is psychopuppetry: the psychoterapeutic, integrative part of therapeutic puppetry. Also he uses the term Puppet Playback theatre, where the child is encouraged to remember and play past situations. The child organizes the setting and what the therapist should play. Matthew works as a associate Professor of Health Professions, Psychiatry and Behaviorial Sciences at Graduate Art Therapy & Counseling Program on Eastern Virginia Medical School, United States. Among other wise things he has written as follows:

 "The puppeteer is symbolically in control of the imaginary characters and their stories as well as the world in which they live. Puppetry provides (...) opportunities to practice degrees and styles of control."   

                                                                                                                                                                                          (Bernier & O´Hare 2005)

"Puppets are sometimes made as conscious self-representations or representations of others, but more often, puppets emerge that embody unconscious dynamics or parts of self that are not as easily or openly expressed.”   

                                                                                                                                          (Matthew Bernier, Bernier, M & O´Hare, J. 2005, p.125) 

Bromfield, Richard 

Richard Bromfield, PhD, is a faculty member of Harvard Medical School and is in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts. He writes about children, psychotherapy and family life in both professional and popular periodicals, among others an article about the use of puppets in therapy. More at 

"More disturbed children who lack an integrated self may employ many different puppets, each holding a limited fragment of the whole self (...) the puppet on a child´s right hand might conflict with the puppet on his left, whereas better integrated children frequently depend on one puppet to contain and express their infinitely varied range of thoughts and feelings and to confront and master their ambivalence."  (Bromfield 1995, p.436-437)

"The fact that the child´s hand actually sits inside the puppet also has a meaning. No differently than a facial mask, the hand costume an serve to crate a sense of disguise, somewhat disinhibiting the child. The material limits of the puppet that restrain the hand can enhance the impulse ridden child´s capacity to maintain control while expressing potentially disorganizing material. (...) And though the child holds the puppet on her hand, she may feel that the puppet holds her..."   (Bromfield 1995, p.438)

Chiles, Diana

Diana Chiles, M.Ed, MRE, CCLS, has utilized puppet therapy to comfort hospitalized children for more than 30 years. Her primary working tool is Bernard the Hospital Puppet. He is a green, friendly-looking boy with a big muppet-like mouth. He is a fellow patient to the children and have the ability to bring joy, provide trust, comfort and friendship. You can find Bernard on YouTube and read some at: 

Ekstein, Rudolf

Rudolf Ekstein (1912-2005) was born in Vienna, had a Jewish heritage and a political interest. 1937 he earned a doctorate in psychoanalysis at University of Vienna, but fled from there to London in 1938 after Hitler invaded Austria. Soon he continued to the USA and became a famous child therapist, educator, writer, scientist and professor of medical psychology at the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA.

He worked a lot with emotionally disturbed, autistic, psychotic and borderline disorders in children a lot. Among other things he coordinated the findings of a three-person team – psychiatrist, psychologist and social worker. He also wrote an article about puppet play in the psychotherapeutic process with a psychotic adolescent girl. In the 1950´ies he met Bruno Bettelheim, also born in Vienna, interested in the same patients and theoretical orientation. They became close friends.  

Gerity, Lani

Lani Gerity worked with dissociative adults for more than a decade in New York, among others using puppetry in group treatment. She has written a book about her experiences from these years, the healing processes in what was called Puppetland. She moved to Canada later on using art therapy with refugee children. 

"...over time, particularly in the puppet making group, the creative process was being used to repair disturbed bod images, to bring together dissociated parts of the self, and to provide the artists with a sense of history, causality, and meaning. Over time I observed a diminishment of feelings of alienation..."              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Bernier 2005)

Friedman, Gary:

Gary is from Australia and has worked a lot with puppetry in the social development field. He has for example worked in prisons, against apartheid and AIDS. One method he uses is to create puppets with paper and nothing more. 

"The puppet is our metaphor, with the power to unite aross cultural, language and social divides" 

More at

Gauda, Gudrun.  

A German puppet therapist, psychologist and psychotherapist specialized in objectrelations, family therapy and jungian psychology. As goes for many others in the German-speaking countries she is educated by Swiss puppet therapist Käthy Wüthrich (see at W on this page). Gudrun has written several books (in German) and is the founder of Das Frankfurter Institut für Gestaltung und Kommunikation where puppet therapists are educated. For further information look at:   (mainly in German)

Hadari, Farryl

Farryl calls herself puppetry artist, educator and explorer.  She lived in United States before, but is now since many years working in Israel. She has worked with puppetry in diffrent settings such as professional, educational and therapeutic and is therapeutically trained at the Gestalt Institute. For further information see:

Harter, Klaus

Klaus Harter is a psychologist who together with Käthy Wütrich developed a special therapy method based on the use of handpuppets and Jungian psychology. The puppet is seen as closely related to the childs soul, healing processes and archetypes. This work is described in a book they wrote together.

Hartwig Kjellstrand, Elizabeth

Irwin, Eleanor C

Eleanor Irwin is a PhD, a licenced psychologist, a registered drama therapist and TEP in psychodrama. She is also a co-founder of Northern America Drama Therapy Association (1979) as well as the Expressive Media (in 1985 along with Judy Rubin). She has written articles, books and made films. Along with Elaine Portner she developed the Family Puppet Interview.  

Jenkins, R.L.  

See Erica Beckh. 

"Since the puppets are in fact the hans of the puppet player, these hands have for purposes of the play ceased to be a part of the child and are the bodies of the puppets. Aggressive or other tabooed actions undertaken by these hands are therefore, for purposes of the play, not the actions of the child manipulating the puppet but the actions of the puppet. If the puppet does wrong, it is the puppet, not the child, that is to be censured or punished."

                                                      (Jenkins & Beckh 1942, p.117 in Schaefer & Cangelosi 2002) 

Koppelman, Ruby  


Kors, Pieter C

Kors was an existentialistic practitioner. He successfully let adults make plays with puppets that earlier patients had maid. He could set up puppetplays as miniature psychodramas and said that puppetplay is the medium above all when it comes to its closeness to reality. He also worked on differentiating stuctured from unstructured play. In his book he has written as follows:

"...puppet shows in an unstructured set-up can lead to satisfactory results. The goals must be set according to the intelligence and ability of the individual child. The therapist must be williing and able to deal with an initial phase of disruption, disorganization and frustration..." 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Kors 1964, p.56)

Lagerqvist, Ingrid

Ingrid Lagerqvist was a puppeteer and occupational therapist working in Sweden  from 1951 until she passed away some years ago in Austria. She became interested in and learnt drama, music therapy and puppetry early in life, and was also the child of polish puppeteers. Hand- and paper-puppets was her specialities. Her work was mainly in schools for children with special needs, although she also practised in childrens hospitals and psychiatric wards. She especially emphasized the use of puppetry as a continuous method including the whole process from creation to play.

Linn, Susan Elizabeth

Susan Linn, Ed.D. is a psychologist, writer and ventriloquist. She is also an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an activist focused in the effects of media and commercial marketing on children.  

Susan is internationally known for using puppets in child psychotherapy, to help children cope with hospital experiences. 1978-82 she along with collegues provided short-term puppet therapy for bone marrow transplant at Children´s Hospital in Boston. The sessions were structured, but the child could choose the puppet. Puppets were always animals since they fascilitate identification and afford the child more protection than a human figures according to studies. 

More information in her articles, books and website

Malloy, Elaine S

Marshall, Karrie

Paulus, Beate

Perriard-Maire, Hedi:

Hedi is a Swiss psychologist and child psychotherapist using puppets frequently in her practice. She is trained at the Jung Institute and by puppet therapist Käthy Wüthrich. 

Among other things she talks about three categorys of puppets functioning: compensational, protectional and identificational puppets.   

Petzold, Hilarion:

Hilarion has training in philosophy, russian orthodox theology, psychology and medicine. He developed a method for integrative psychotherapy used among others in addiction treatment.  

Pfeiffer, Wolfgang M  

Wolfgang Pfeiffer worked with Gestalt therapy in psychiatry using handpuppets.  

Philpott, A.R.   

Ross, Patricia Tracy 

Shapiro, Daniel E

Shutman, Paula:

Paula is among other things specialized in eating disorders and lives in Texas, United States. She works with the inner children in focus, you could say as a way to re-parent oneself. The main work is to look at the different inner childrens stories, thoughts and views of life. This makes it possible to identify, label and feel them later on. The puppet gets its own voice and the distance creates a non-threatening space. 

"The symbolism inherent in puppetry helps adults bypass thinking and connect with feeling. Because puppets are fun and take us back to childhood, they can help adults access the child within that desperately nedeed to be heard, but never had the chance."

The quote is from the Inner Child Puppet Therapy website

Shuttleworth, R 


Sommers, S  

Sori, Catherine Ford

Steinhardt, Leonore  

Telnova, Larisa

Vizzini, Joanne   

Joanne has a PhD and began her work with puppet therapy in 1995. She has developed her own model, read more at her website 

Weiss, Felisa  

Woltmann, Adolf G:

See Lauretta Bender. 

"The symbolic characters can give a free expression of aggression without causing anxiety or fear in the child, and also can give a free expression of love."   

                                                                                                                                                                                  (Bender / Woltmann 1936)

Wüthrich, Käthy:

Käthy Wütrich was a Swiss artist, teacher and puppet therapist influenced by jungian psychology. Along with psychologist Klaus Harter she developed a special puppet therapy method, which today probably would be place among the non-directive ones. The child makes its own human-puppet, then chooses two puppets, an animal and 3-4 props. The child directs, the therapist follows and the therapist plays with one animal plus one human-puppet. 

Käthy passed away some years ago. She has had a lot of influence in the puppet therapy field in the German speaking countries, among others Gudrun Gauda is one of her followers (as well as former collegue).

Zelevansky, Paul