• Drawing paper pad
  • Black markers, pens and coloring pencils
  • Table and comfortable seating
  • Inspirational objects (stickers, Legos, toys, etc.), optional

Please choose a table and seating arrangement that is comfortable for the client and offers a large area for art supplies and drawing. Place a large drawing pad open to an empty page in front of the client with access to a variety of coloring pencils, markers, pens and pencils for them to choose from on the table. You can also provide objects for inspiration or offer for them to choose an object in the room.

Please then provide these initial instructions:

“Today we are going to create a character. It will be able to say, look like, express, live and do whatever you want it to. This character will be able to feel, understand, and communicate any emotions or feelings you want it to, and have any skills or powers you give it.”

Please then begin with this question list, but modify as needed depending on age of client, interests, etc:

“I’m going to ask some questions to help me understand what you are creating…”

  1. What is your character? (human, animal, alien, superhero, etc)
  2. Does your character have a name?
  3. What color is it?
  4. Where does your character live? (here on earth, underground, in space, etc.)
  5. Does your character have a home? What does it look like?
  6. What does it like to do? (for fun, go to school, etc.)
  7. Does your character have friends or family? Or like to live alone?
  8. What kind of skills does your character have?
  9. Does your character have any special powers?
  10. If your character could do or say anything what would it do?

Target Population:
Children and teens of developmental level between five and 18 years old.

Expected Results and Troubleshooting:
As discussed by Hall, Kaduson, and Schaefer (2001) “Children who are referred for therapy often have low self-esteem, ineffective problem-solving skills, and difficult relationships with peers and adults” (p.6), often making it difficult for them to articulate their feelings and discuss their perception of self. Through creating a character, much like the use of puppets as a therapeutic technique, the client can present strengths, weaknesses, perceptions of relationships, and potentially offer insight into their understanding of personal emotions and circumstances. In this way, the therapist will be provided with important projective information while the client is able to work on and think through factors related to identity. This activity differs from other character building activities because the creation of the character is completely in the hands of the client.

Issues may arise if clients get stuck or do not know how to start. For this reason, the therapist will have a set of examples available, specifically characters that already exist that the client may know. The therapist can also be called on to help the client if he or she is frustrated by not knowing how to answer questions or what the character should be like. This could include reminding the client that they need not answer every question and that there are no correct answers.

Related Works:

Bitstrips for Schools Create a Character. (2014). September 6, 2014, from /create/character/

Hall, T. M., Kaduson, H. G., & Schaefer, C. E. (2002). Fifteen effective play therapy techniques. Professional Psychology: Therapy and Practice , 33 (6), 515-522.

Hickey, D. A. (2001). 101 more favorite play therapy techniques. In H. G. Kaduson & G. Schaefer (Eds.). Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

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This could also be used with adults. With teens and adults, questions could be added to indicate the possibility of dystopia:

What is the society like in which your character lives?
Are there major differences between different groups of people?

There are many more that could be added here, and these are just extensions of the questions already presented.

I used to do a project with my English classes where they had to create everything about a character: basic bio, family tree, etc. They were then charged with looking at how the character would respond to various situations, thus enhancing their understanding of the character and taking that character from flat to well-rounded.

I always loved seeing what they created.