Chronic Monday: The Power of Art to Heal - Intro to Healing Dolls

Traditional Guatemalan Worry Dolls

A healing doll is an alternative form of journal writing that helps to externalize your feelings. It is a doll that can hold your feelings so that you no longer have to, and it can be an active and supportive process for healing that can be used alone or in conjunction with a diary.

Here are some examples of Healing Dolls by Barb Kobe:

This one totally reminds me of when I'm having an IBS episode. When I was first figuring out what was going on with that, my counselor asked me to draw what I was feeling. I couldn't get it on paper and finally got some clay to depict the "wounded feeling in gut (WFIG)" that I had come to know the feelings as.

"Digesting My Life" healing doll by Barb Kobe

This cutie is a Guardian doll by Marla, from Barb Kobe's Medicine Doll Class. Very symbolic. Read about her if you are interested.

Dawning of a New Day, Steve's Healing Doll

Steve is Barb's brother, and she had his permission to make this doll for him. She says it's very important to have the permission of the person you want to make a doll for. You can read more about the process at the link above, if you're interested.

From Barb's web page on her Medicine Doll E-book:

"The essential process of healing yourself with artmaking is one involving creating an image that stands as a symbol of a change or choice you want to make. In creating the art you can become more conscious and restore your connection to your intuition and your soul. Dollmaking can help you to heal (become whole) at a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. When you are physically ill, in pain, dealing with emotional issues, or challenged by a life changing event, you can start to heal yourself with art by opening up to your inner voices, listening to them, and allowing their messages to emerge.

The arts affect every cell in the body to create a healing state that changes:

* the immune system and blood flow to all the organs

* perceptions including attitude, emotional state, and pain perception

* feelings of hope and abilities to cope with difficulties

* the outlook and way of being in the world

Barb says she starts people on the healing doll experience by asking that they answer these Ten Questions:. The answers serve as the inspiration for the doll.


1. What colors are you drawn to? Do you wear often? Are your favorites?

2. What will this doll stand as a symbol for you? What will it remind you to think, feel, and/or do
when you see it?

3. What elements describe you? Earth, air, water, fire?

4. What symbols do you like? You collect these, spend time around them, are drawn to them like a magnet?

5. What part of your body do you feel needs healing?

6. If an animal with special powers were to enter your life to give you power, what would that animal be?

7. When do you feel the most powerful?

8. What astrological sign are you?

9 What does your heart yearn for?

10. What is your favorite fairy tale? Explain how this fairy tale is a metaphor for your Life?

I'm going to be thinking about the answers to these questions so I can get on my way to creating my first healing doll. I'll keep you posted on how it's going...


  1. These are interesting dolls. I wonder how many people use them?

    Thanks for the information and take care my friend.

  2. I don't know about how many people use healing dolls. I was searching on art + healing when I found them and I just know I feel more drawn to this type of healing art than to any other I have found so far.

    Thank you and you're welcome!

  3. Thanks for posting the pictures and references to my blog and website.
    Barb Kobe

  4. interesting ideas....I am going to copy the questions to get me thinking and use them to give me a jump start for whatever creative endeavor I am choosing for the day...thanks for the inspiration

  5. You're welcome, ab. Be sure and check out Barb Kobe's website; she's made lots of improvements since I did this post. She also has a year long online class and is interested in working with the CI population. I'll post more on that as I'm able.


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