Art Activity: Making Worry Dolls

“The young artist told me with great confidence that she didn’t need to tell the worry doll her worries anymore, because the doll just knows them now.”
— Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater

Traditional Guatemalan Worry Doll

Handmade Worry Doll Created in Art Therapy Session

Traditional worry dolls are made in Guatemala and are thought to date back to Mayan times.  They are also sometimes referred to as trouble dolls.  Worry dolls or trouble dolls are believed to have the power to hold our worries.  For example, before bedtime, we might confide our worries in the worry doll, tuck him or her under our pillow, and get a goodnight’s rest as the doll holds all of our worries.  Even more, a worry doll can be a friend with whom we can share emotional pain.

What about worry dolls and art therapy?  The UC Davis Cancer Center suggests in art therapy sessions that children make worry dolls in the shape of their fears.  The doll is then slipped under each child’s pillow in the middle of the night, instilling in each child the belief that the source of worry is gone.  This activity of creating and using a worry doll is great because it combines so many things:  creative expression, acknowledgment of worries, friendship, trust, letting go of worries, and the therapeutic process.

As we mentioned in a previous post, the NCAS-I will be making worry dolls with the girls at Transitions and a local orphanage in Cambodia.

(Quote and 2nd image from:; other information and 1st image from:                              

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