Stones and other "transitional objects" as mediators in psychotherapeutic dialogue

Acta Paedopsychiatr. 1992;55(4):225-30.


A special technique is described, to be used at the beginning or in the course of psychotherapy, designed to gain access to inhibited, silent or depressive patients. For this purpose, the client is presented with an assortment of natural stones, feathers or pieces of wood (driftwood) in a rich variety of colours and forms and invited to choose and handle whatever object most attracts him/her. In the resulting interaction with the therapist, the concrete object acts as a mediator and "transitional object" in the literal sense of the term, namely as a "third object" between the patient and the therapist. This real object (stone, feather or piece of wood), which the patient can feel and handle, helps to enlarge the "playing field" of the dyadic patient-therapist relationship and to reduce anxiety in inhibited and depressive clients. Feeling the object helps the patient to evoke memories and associations and to perceive and address inner emotions hitherto pent up inside him/her. With the help of three case studies the technique of using such natural materials is described.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychotherapy / trends*