Dezeen Magazine

Tools for Therapy encourage people to open up about their emotions

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Nicolette Bodewes has created a tactile toolkit designed to be used in psychotherapy sessions.

Presented at this year's Dutch Design Week, Tools for Therapy is intended as a "communication toolkit" that helps people in therapy express their thoughts.

DDW: Tools for therapy

Bodewes designed the kit – which features two sets of objects, round sheets of paper and a workbook – after her own experiences with therapy sessions.

"I went into therapy myself – I had a burnout when I was 28, so I was quite young," she told Dezeen. "I came into the situation where I had different kinds of therapies at the same time."

"After years and years of just having normal talk therapy, I started to have psychomotor therapy and creative therapy, which were about all about visualising."

DDW: Tools for therapy

Bodewes found these types of therapy much more helpful, and through her work hoped to create something that could be introduced into standard psychotherapy sessions.

The project is made up of a basic set of building blocks, as well as a set of 12 more complex objects based on the Jungian Archetypes defined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.

Among these archetypes is the mother – the comforting element of a person's psyche – which Bodewes has represented through a squishy leather figure.

DDW: Tools for therapy

She also looked outside of Jungian theory to mythology, creating a heavy block inspired by the moon and a smooth rounded shape for the cosmic egg.

The accompanying basic set of elements consists of white beams, cubes and cylinders in two different sizes. It is intended to represent different situations, people, feelings or thoughts.

Both sets of objects come with a round board of tracing paper for the client to draw on, and a workbook with for the therapist to refer to and record notes in.

DDW: Tools for therapy

But these are just guidelines, and clients are encouraged to make their own judgements about what each object is.

"They're designed to have multiple angles to talk about," Bodewes said. "They can be positive, they can be negative, it's up to the client."

"The elements are your metaphors, and by placing them on the board you put them into a context."

DDW: Tools for therapy

Each object is made from a different material. Hoping to make the kit affordable to produce, Bodewes chose cheaper materials like wood, cork, marble, Belgian bluestone, rubber, leather, porcelain, red earthenware, concrete, plaster, brass and tin.

Mental health was a key topic at Dutch Design Week's Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show, where designer Yi-Fei Chen presented her personal struggle with speaking her mind through a gun that fires her tears.