“I’ve Killed My Puppet!” A Relational Psychotherapeutic Approach to Inclusive Classroom Practices


  • Joseph Michael Valente The Pennsylvania State University


Curriculum, Inclusion, Therapeutic approach, relational approach


This article begins with a story called “I’ve killed my puppet” based on an incident that unfolded in the author’s university class, which provides a concrete illustration of the potential of a relational psychotherapeutic approach to inclusion. At its core, a relational approach is about relationships. What this has meant practically in terms of inclusive practice is reframing “difference” as a relation. A relational view presupposes that “difference” does not singularly reside in the individual, but that “difference” is also shaped and given shape by the group. A distinct feature of a relational praxis that makes it especially inclusive is how relationality works purposefully to center individual and group practices of relating (or not) to one another. Another distinct feature of a relational approach is how it reframes teaching and learning as simultaneously a pedagogic and therapeutic project. Valente uses the “I’ve killed my puppet” story as an example to foreground relational strategies employed in his teaching practice in his class and in that particular episode. He uses the story and the discussion that follows to make the case for inclusive educators to consider adapting, or modifying into their own teaching practices, these particular relational strategies.