Stories and characters can help us understand our inner worlds and relationships. Here is an article written for therapists and therapy written in a Play Therapy counseling program.


In the Jungian Analytical Play Therapy technique the therapist provides 8-10 pre-selected fairy tales for the child to choose from. The therapist reads the fairy tale the child chooses. Then the therapist asks the child to draw something in the sand about the fairy tale- one meaningful image, feeling, or figure from the tale and then creates a sand tray with scene with figures. The therapist helps the child to process the child’s creation with them by asking questions such as: (a) What were you feeling when you placed x there? (b) If this symbol (or object or person) were talking, what would they be saying and to whom? If the child is under the age of 8 the therapist may ask different probing questions such as, “Let’s talk about (the object/image/symbol) and its purpose in the drawing (or sand tray). What does (the object/image/symbol) do? Where does it live?” The therapist can then analyze what the child is doing and provide a dialogue with them to help them individuate (Shaeffer, 2011).

There are a myriad of fairytales and modern mythological stories to pull from for this activity that children may already be familiar with and identify with. Harry Potter is one example, where the main character exemplifies the archetype of the orphan child (Hunt, 2006). I also found a book review with stories that held many archetypes including the Junian archetype of the child-god Hermes mentioned in my prior discussion for this Unit and the image he holds of ‘walking backwards.’ The same issue also had a review of ‘The Shadow of the Dragon,’ and a JAPT therapist could discuss with the child the shadow side of each archetype in exploring the meaning of the images they created in the sad related to the stories read in therapy. Many children and adults have an ‘orphan child’ and can benefit from working with this image in therapy as relates to Harry Potter. There is a positive and negative and individuation can occur in bringing these images to consciousness in one’s identity. Jung’s theories of the child and what became JAPT all started with his thoughts about the archetype of the child and while going through inner conflict near the end of his own life he found healing through identifying the child archetype in himself (Jung, 2009).

Hunt, Kathy. (2006). ‘Do You Know Harry Potter? Well, He is an Orphan’: Every Bereaved Child Matters. Pastoral Care in Education, Jun2006, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p39-44. 6p.

Jung, C.G. (2009). The red book. New York, NY: Norton.

Schaefer, C. (2011). Foundations of Play Therapy. 2nd Ed. Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, New Jersey

Book Review. (2010.) Library Media Connection. Jan/Feb2010, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p69-69. 1/9p.