Create Your Own Superhero & Villain!

By: Abena Benjamin & Kyler Allen

Target Population:
Individuals ages 8 and up

Materials Needed:
Blank Paper
Pen or Pencil
Crayons & Markers
Different Colored Cloth (Preferably cloth you can draw on)
Cotton or other Stuffing Material
Stapler and/or Needle and Thread
Optional: Plastic Eyes, Noses, Ears, Mouths

Begin by having your clients use the blank piece of paper to sketch themselves as a superhero; encourage them to be creative and to think about who they would be if they were a superhero. Have them answer questions about their strengths as a superhero, their weaknesses as a superhero and how these strengths and weaknesses personally relate to their current life. Also, have them name their superhero. Once they have completed their drawing and thought critically about these questions, have them sketch their superhero’s arch-enemy; this villain can be representative of any hardship in their life. For instance, they may name the villain “Dr. Rage” if your client is struggling with anger management. Once they have finished the drawings have them discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this character and how this personally relates to them.

After they have completed their drawings, you may choose to have them create actual cloth versions of themselves as a superhero and their corresponding villain. Have them choose from the various pieces of cloth to create doll versions of these characters. Encourage them to be original and creative. Provide them with stuffing material and dependent on age and allotted time you can either have them use a stapler (quick method) or needle and thread to complete their characters by connecting the pieces of cloth, so they can add stuffing. Once this is done you can continue to use these characters in session as a method of roleplaying situations in their life that they may be struggling with.

Expected Results and Troubleshooting:
According to Rubin and Livesay (2006), using a client’s imagination can be a powerful resource. For example, imagination can help a child make sense of their world and better understand their struggles within it. Having a physical representation of a child’s problem may help with developing emotional literacy and being able to talk about identifying feelings (Sayers, 2006). Walking through emotional scenarios can help the client express feelings fluently and develop emotional literacy through learning to use, monitor, and express emotions successfully.

If difficulty arises in creating an original superhero or villain, the client can recreate an already existing hero and villain while still getting the benefit of using crafts to create them. The hero the client could create would be one with which he or she most identifies. If access to all materials is not possible, drawing out scenarios with the villain and superhero could then be the focus of the session. Helping the client to identify what struggles and strengths he or she has and incorporating those qualities into a respective villain and superhero.

Related Works for Rationale:
O’Connor, K. (n.d.). Why Play? Retrieved September 27, 2016, from Play Therapy Makes a Difference - Association for Play Therapy

Rubin, L., & Livesay, H. (2006). Look, up in the sky! Using superheroes in play therapy. International Journal of Play Therapy,15(1), 117-133. doi:10.1037/h0088911

Originally posted on the Geek Therapy Wiki, hosted on the now-defunct Wikispaces platform, as part of Dr. Patrick O’Connor’s course Geek Culture in Therapy.