“Once upon a time a boy of less than 10 years witnessed the murder of his family committed by his father. He stopped talking because of the shock, he lost all strength to start to live again. He was entrusted to the care of several doctors who were unable to find a way to make him reacting to the trauma. Finally he was entrusted to the care of a woman doctor, a particular doctor: she was a lover of puppets. She gave the child simple materials and gave him the task of building a puppet. After a moment of hesitation, with the help of the doctor, he began to build a puppet with his similarities: finished the work, the child began to talk to the puppet unaware of being observed by astonished doctors. It was thanks to this puppet that the child was able to overcome the shock and continue to live.”
This incredible event is not a fantastic story: it really happened! I’m talking about the great experiment made by Ornella Baragiola, a puppeteer expert in play therapy. In 1950, she started to heal childreen using puppets built with poor and simple materials. It has been proven that sick children respond very well to interaction with puppets, especially if they are built by them. Children tend to build their own puppet with their similarities, they need to recognize themselves in it to be able to trust it, as if it was an imaginary friend. As it happened in the episode narrated above, it is easier for a child to interact with someone who he knows, instead it is very difficult for him to trust strangers, especially after a trauma. Puppet therapy has greatly developed, and it can be compared to ClownTerapia, which is able to bring a smile to those children who no longer have reason to smile. In 1980 Ornella Baragiola founded the “Teatrino Tascabile”, an association engaged in the creation of events for children held in Svizzera and abroad. The mission of the organization is clear: to work in the childhood field to meet the emotional needs and to stimulate the imagination and creativity of children.