~ this one is for therapists. And those interested in Bunny’s history ~
My early therapy years were spent working with children and adolescents at a residential treatment center. As I entered private practice and began creating my own therapy office – a consistent, calm, welcoming space - I needed a stuffed animal that could be soothing to clients – while I see people of all ages, children and adolescents remain a large part of my clientele.
I’m pretty particular about most things – I like a sturdy fidget spinner and a good Pop-It (has equal sound and push-pop on both sides). So I wasn’t going to just run into a drugstore and grab the first bear I saw. I researched my options, online and in high-end toy stores. The animal had to be soft, aesthetically pleasing – perhaps have multiple tactile options on it’s stuffed body. All the things a good therapy stuffed animal can be.
The first acceptable animal was a very soft, small brown bear. He had imploring eyes and was soothing to stroke. However, I, and one client, were the only people who cared at all about him. No one cared to take him from his couch corner and at the end of each day, I pulled him from between the couch cushions where the daily neglect left him. I had true empathy for that bear and wish I had given him to his one adorning client instead of Goodwill.
The couch was empty.
The next summer at the yearly arts festival I found a blue knitted yarn cat made from repurposed sweaters. She had four long legs and a long tail. I thought Blue Cat’s face was engaging. Clients thought Blue Cat’s face was frightening. Blue Cat went to the bottom of the bookshelf to stand watch, out of sight, over the emotion cards.
Again the couch was empty.
And then I found Bunny.
Actually, that’s a lie. I had my eye on Bunny for a long time. For some reason I hesitated to buy him – fear of failure?????
He is soft. He has long stroke-able ears. His face is engaging but passive. His nose, a cute pink triangle. His butt is a bean bag so he has some heft and sits well. He’s a brindle bunny - a mix of brown, grey, a little black.
Most people love Bunny. Everyone likes him. And not just kids, Bunny’s most fervent admirers are all adults. He is held on laps, his ears are stroked, his ears, arms, and feet are tied into loving knots, his head is petted. He is talked to. Clients inquire about his name, gender, and other personal details. I call him Bunny, but he has multiple names – one of them is Comfort. Even the most hardened and dismissive teenage girl absently strokes his head while she talks. When clients leave the office they make sure Bunny is sitting in a comfortable space with his ears and legs comfortably arranged. They say to him, “goodbye” and “see you next week”.
Recently a woman in her mid-20s, who never appeared interested in Bunny, told me she has a small Bunny she requested as a gift because of Bunny on the couch – she wanted one at home. She said of Bunny in the office, “he is always here, he’s a constant”.
Sometimes people are frustrated and Bunny is abused. But amends are always made. One woman came in and sat on the couch, Bunny was in the way. She knocked him to the floor - “move over” she told him. Then, after a few seconds she sighed and picked Bunny up off the floor, “It’s not your fault,” she told him as she set him upright on the couch next to her.
What is it about Bunny that endures him to people? His ears really are great for self-soothing and absently stroking while talking. But I think it’s the shape of his face and the placement of his eyes. They let everyone know that Bunny accepts you regardless of your faults, your scary secrets, and strange desires. Most importantly, he allows himself to be whomever you need.