Pitarque, Sandrine

Story of the origins: how going through fiction may help parents to share their story with their child

Le récit des origines: comment le passage par la fiction peut aider des parents à partager leur histoire avec leur enfant

Sandrine Pitarque

Sometimes we meet families and we cannot figure out their story. There are holes, blends, confusion. Are the parents denying, lying, not daring to tell the truth? The child is agressive, unruly. He can’t find his place, s/he can’t trust adults.  We may then propose a setting named Story of the origins.

How does it work? The art therapist meets the parents with their child. The parents tell their story: how they met, how they felt in love, how was the pregnancy, the delivery, the first weeks of the child. While the parents talk, the child listens. S/he may ask questions, s/he may draw or play.

Between each session (there are usually five of them) the art therapist writes a tale, based on the real story but with a poetic and imaginary dimension. The family story becomes a fairy tale, a gothic short novel, a legend with animals… The form is chosen by the family at the first session. Then the art therapist invents the names and moves the real events in the new environment. She begins each session by reading to the parents and the child what she has written.

At the end of the work, a book is produced, putting together the story, the drawings realized during the sessions and, sometimes, a photo, the text of a song, a family tree… It belongs to the family and it may have a life there (being read at home, being continued).

When a family has had to suffer through exile, grief and violence this work may help to patch up pieces. Going through the fiction helps to face the truth, to share it with the child, even indirectly. As the story is reconstructed, it enables the child to include him/herself in a history. S/he often begins to trust the parents again. And s/he can build their own story (identity, desire) as s/he has now a solid base.


Sandrine Pitarque
is co-leader of the dramatherapy section of the Paris Sorbonne Cité master’s programme. She also teaches theatre at the Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle University. She has created and leads many dramatherapy groups in psychiatry for adults, teenagers and children. She is developing new settings towards children with difficulties at school and towards parents. She supervises dramatherapists. She directs theatre creations involving both professional artists and marginalized people. She is trained in psychoanalytic psychodrama and Gestalt practice. She is member of the CEDRA (Cercle d’Etudes en DRAmathérapie), the SPFE-AT (Société Française de Psychopathologie de l’Expression – Art Thérapie) and the SFPPG (Société Française de Psychothérapie Psychanalytique de Groupe)


Recent Publications
Pitarque, S, (2018).  Jouons pour les aider à bien grandir (Let’s play to help them grow).  Leduc.s Editions, Paris.

Pitarque, S. (2018). Dramathérapie pour enfants autistes: les appuis théoriques. (Dramatherapy for autistic children: theorical bases).  Revue de lenfance et de ladolescence, érès, 2018

2017: Integration of Anglo-American drama therapies in the French traditional psychoanalytic approach. ECArTE Conference, 2017.

Pitarque, S. (2017).  La dramathérapie.  In: Lecourt, E. and Lubart, T. (eds) Les art-thérapies, Armand Colin, France.

Pitarque, S. (2016). Dramatherapy: the French way. BADth Review, Sept 2016