Using Superheroes in Counseling and Play Therapy


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Harness the Therapeutic Power of the Superhero!

  • Application of the Star Wars Adoption Narrative
  • Emotional Literacy and the Incredible Hulk
  • Batman and Trauma
  • What Would Superman Do–An Adlerian Approach?

With an incisive historical foreword by John Shelton Lawrence and insight from contributors such as Michael Brody, Patty Scanlon, and Roger Kaufman, Lawrence Rubin takes us on a dynamic tour of the benefits of using these icons of popular culture and fantasy in counseling and play therapy. Not only can superheroes assist in clinical work with children, but Rubin demonstrates how they can facilitate growth and change with teen and adults. Early childhood memories of how we felt pretending to have the power to save the world or our families in the face of impending danger still resonate in our adult lives, making the use of superheroes attractive as well, to the creative counsellor. In presenting case studies and wisdom gleaned from practicing therapists’ experience, Lawrence Rubin shows how it is possible to uncover children’s secret identities, assist treatment of adolescents with sexual behaviour problems, and inspire the journey of individuation for gay and lesbian clients, all by paying attention to our intrinsic social need for superhero fantasy and play.


  • Contributors
  • Foreword, John Shelton Lawrence, Morningside College, Emeritus
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Section I: Traditional Superheroes in Counseling and Play Therapy
  • Introduction: Look, Up in the Sky! An Introduction to the Use of Superheroes in Psychotherapy, Lawrence C. Rubin
  • Superheroes in Therapy: Uncovering Children’s Secret Identities, Robert J. Porter
  • What Would Superman Do? Cory A. Nelson
  • Superheroes and Sandplay: Using the Archetype through the Healing Journey, William McNulty
  • The Incredible Hulk and Emotional Literacy, Jennifer Mendoza Sayers
  • Section II: Superheroes and Unique Clinical Applications
  • Holy Franchise! Batman and Trauma, Michael Brody,
  • Making a Place for the Angry Hero on the Team, Harry Livesay
  • A Super Millieu: Using Superheroes in the Residential Treatment of Adolescents with Sexual Behaviour Problems, Karen Robertie, Ryan Weidenbenner, Leya Barrett, and Robert Poole
  • Superheroes are Super Friends: Developing Social Skills and Emotional Reciprocity with Autism Spectrum Clients, Patty Scanlon
  • Superheroes in Play Therapy with an Attachment Disordered Child, Carmela Wenger
  • Luke, I Am Your Father! A Clinical Application of the Star Wars Adoption Narrative, Lawrence C. Rubin
  • Section III: Non-Traditional Therapeutic Applications of Superheroes Becoming the Hero: The Use of Role-Playing Games in Psychotherapy, George Enfield
  • To Boldly Go! Star Trek Superheroes in Therapy, Jeff Pickens
  • Hypnosis and Superheroes, Jan Burte
  • Heroes Who Learn to Love Their Monsters: How Fantasy Film Characters Can Inspire the Journey of Individuation for Gay and Lesbian Clients in Psychotherapy, Roger Kaufman
  • Afterword
  • Appendix

Author Bio:

Lawrence C. Rubin, PhD, LMHC, RPT-S, is a Professor of Counsellor Education at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he also coordinates the Mental Health Counseling training program. He is a psychotherapist in private practice where he works with children, adolescents, and families, providing assessment, counseling, and play therapy. Dr. Rubin is a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and current president of the Florida Association for Play Therapy. His research interests lie at the intersection of psychology and popular culture, in which context he has recently edited Psychotropic Drugs and Popular Culture: Essays on Medicine, Mental Health and the Media, Winner of the 2006 Popular Cultural Association Ray and Pat Browne Book Award for best edited collection.


  • Hardback¬†
  • 368 page