Pasadena Villa’s Residents Enjoy Social Integration Activities: Kokeshi Dolls

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Marnita Patton, MA, ATR, CCBT, CGT, CDP, Art Therapist at Pasadena Villa Orlando, led residents on an art activity involving Kokeshi dolls.  To celebrate the Japanese New Year, Marnita decided it would be perfect to introduce  the Japanese art form of the Kokeshi Doll. Everyone got to learn about the unique design, origins and concepts that surrounds the dolls.

Marnita started the group activity by providing formation on the origin of the dolls.  Kokeshi dolls originate from the Tohoku region of Northern Japan, an area well-known for its onsen (Japanese for hot spring) resorts. These handmade wooden dolls are thought to date back to the early 19th century when kijiya (woodworkers), accustomed to making bowls and trays began using their woodworking skills and lathes to make simple dolls to sell as toys and souvenirs to the onsen visitors.

The dolls may originally have had a spiritual significance with the Kokeshi representing a wish for a healthy child. It has also been suggested that Kokeshi, with their round heads and limbless bodies probably made in an unpainted form originally, were used as massage tools by spa bathers. The name “Kokeshi” itself is thought to derive from a combination of names given to the wooden dolls in the various areas of their manufacture.

Everyone in the group looked at a map of the Kokeshi making regions of Japan and discussed the Traditional and Creative Kokeshi designs. In addition to being ornamental they are also seen as charms. We took the idea of a charm and instead of warding off something bad, used this as an idea of what the resident would like to bring to themselves, such as; patience, motivation, better listening skills, easier time with activities of daily living and improved expression of feelings.

Residents were instructed on how to construct the doll beginning with a wooden shape and adding two pieces of paper and red ribbon to create a kimono. Permanent markers were used for the facial features and to create hair. The figure was then placed on a base (a simple wood and material coaster) and a positive phrase sticker was added. Underneath, residents put a small sticky note with the ‘charm’ or thing they wished to have help with and understood that this could be changed at any time.

Pasadena Villa programs set out to create a comforting and therapeutic environment while promoting mental health and a socially fulfilling future. We do things a normal family would do. Our staff and residents learn and model appropriate social and communication skills, from daily mealtimes, to many fun and relaxing arts and crafting activities.

Our mental health professionals work directly with residents. They observe them in actual social situations and incorporate these observations directly into the resident’s ongoing treatment plan.  This individual real life personalized attention makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate, relevant and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other available adult residential treatment mental health services.

As one of the very first programs in the country to base its treatment upon Social Integration, our mental health programs offer help through a unique mix of individualized therapy and group residential programs with a clear focus towards achieving more independent living.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. Our outpatient center is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. If you or someone you know may need counseling on mental health services, please fill out our contact form or call us at 407-215-2519 for more information.



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