The Space Shuttle Lego Set Built During Therapy

Legos Therapy Is Awesome

Marion Leary
3 min readApr 25, 2024


I am a big proponent of psychotherapy, a form of talk therapy, though I don’t always enjoy it. Psychotherapy “refers to a variety of treatments that aim to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.” Most commonly, therapy occurs one-on-one between an individual and a licensed therapist, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Of course, there is a continuum that includes couples therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.

I have had the privilege of partaking in many versions of therapy in my adulthood, but mainly focused on the individual. I am in good company, with approximately 20–30% of adults in the US having seen a therapist in the past 12 months.

Over the years, I have bounced from therapist to therapist for a variety of reasons: firstly, because therapy takes a lot of introspection and confrontation with oneself, and secondly, because “therapists” run the gamut of “you should be in jail for malpractice” to “wow, you get me” — and everything in between.

This variability could partly be seen in the dropout rate of psychotherapy, with one meta-analysis showing a mean dropout rate of 19–46%.

After decades of dropping in and out of psychotherapy, though, I finally found a therapist who got me. I have been seeing them for almost a year and a half. They are a PhD-prepared licensed counseling psychologist certified as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). SEPs are practitioners who help heal trauma and other stress disorders using body-oriented modalities. (I had no idea what this was at first, either).

In this regard, I will say that you get what you pay for when it comes to therapy. Having a PhD-prepared psychologist is evident in how they listen and respond to my needs during our sessions. Their knowledge of the literature and experience dealing with patients is unparalleled to almost any other therapists I’ve had in the past, most of whom did not have a PhD.

Even so, I find our therapy sessions especially hard. I don’t enjoy sitting in a room while someone stares directly at me, waiting for me to talk. After about a year of feeling very uncomfortable at every session, I finally brought this up to my therapist. I referenced an article about forest therapy and how nature relaxes and rejuvenates me. I mentioned that I would be much more comfortable if we were outside, walking and talking, as opposed to in an office. Though not realistic for the constraints of my city-based therapist, they listened thoughtfully and suggested alternative ways to decrease my discomfort.

In the following session, they presented me with Legos. Hence, Lego Therapy(TM) began.

I love Legos, the little plastic interlocking building bricks used to build replicas of everything from space shuttles to Marvel characters to animals and more. In past sessions, I talked about how building with Legos is like a form of therapy for me. It is my happy place where my mind can quiet and focus. Using this information, my therapist gave me the option to build with Legos during our sessions.

At first, I was a bit embarrassed by it, to be honest. But, without fail, they had the Lego set out at every session. It was a few weeks before I even considered opening it up. Finally, though, I broke it open at a particularly tough session — and it was transformative.

It was incredible how different these Lego therapy sessions were for me. I was able to actively engage in thoughtful insights with my therapist without the internal shutdown or anxiety I generally felt at previous sessions; it added a therapeutic component that my brain hadn’t let me have previously. In addition, it was just downright fun, which had never been my experience in psychotherapy in the past.

This is why I firmly believe therapy should be like Legos; you should be able to build what you need to thrive. I am very fortunate — and, honestly, lucky — to have found a therapist who understands this and goes out of their way to individualize and build a therapeutic environment where I thrive. It would be awesome if all therapists did the same. So keep Le-going and find a psychotherapist that meets your needs, too!



Marion Leary

Science geek. Passionate abt Philly, resuscitation, social media, scicomm, innovation, art, & helping others.