Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs.com
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox and Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

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Sometimes it is helpful to relate your experiences to something else, in order to more clearly understand it. The movie, “Pinocchio,” can be used as a metaphor for addiction, Jiminy Cricket as their “sober selves” or conscience, and becoming a real boy without “strings” as ultimate recovery.  I strongly suggest at least looking up the lyrics to the songs from Pinocchio.  The can provide great thinking material.  Here is one link that is active as of this writing: http://www.fpx.de/fp/Disney/Lyrics/Pinocchio.html.  You can usually find the movie Pinocchio at your local library, or on line from services like NetFlix, Hulu or Amazon.  Watch the movie.  Afterward, discuss the different characters and themes as they relate to recovery.

Geppetto is a lonely wood carver who loves his cat Figaro and his fish Cleo, but very much wants another human to love.   He crafts Pinocchio, a marionette to look like a boy.  He tends Pinocchio with great care.  One night the Blue Fairy came to answer Geppetto’s wish because he was such a kind, honest and generous man.  With that she made Pinocchio come to life, but he was not yet a real boy.  To be real, he had to prove himself honest, courageous and compassionate.  He had to learn to choose between right and wrong.  To help him, the Blue Fairy made Jiminy Cricket his conscience.

  • In what ways are you like Pinocchio?
  • How are the Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket like Pinocchio’s higher power?


The next morning, Geppetto was surprised to find his doll had come to life.  Like a good father, he got Pinocchio ready and sent him off to school.  On the way to school Pinocchio was stopped by a fox named “Honest John.” Now Honest John was anything but honest.  He was a con man.  Honest John knew that The Great Stromboli would pay top dollar for a talking, walking wooden doll.  He tempted Pinocchio with promises of the amazing things and adventures that awaited him in show business.  Jiminy Cricket tried to warn Pinocchio, but fame, adventure and fortune won out.  Pinocchio ignored Jiminy Cricket and changed direction.

  • Who or what was your Honest John?
  • Who made you believe your addiction could make you happy?
  • What clues did Pinocchio miss that would have let him know that Honest John was not honest?
  • What clues did you miss that would have let you know that certain people were not true friends and your addiction was not good for you?
  • What did Jiminy Cricket do when Pinocchio ignored him? (Leave him or keep trying)


Jiminy Cricket knew that Pinocchio was making a big mistake, but could not stop him.  It was up to Pinocchio to do the next right thing.  In the next scene, we see Pinocchio on stage singing “I’ve Got No Strings.”  I’ve got no strings to hold me down, to make me fret, or make me frown. // I had strings, but now I am free, there are no strings on me.  Ironically, Pinocchio does have strings.  In show business, as in addiction, generally the people we interact with do things for us, but only for a price.  Pinocchio really is not free to do what he wants.  Stromboli doesn’t love him, he just wants him to earn money.

  • Who in your life is a Stromboli? Who has used you for their own personal gain, while making it seem like they were doing you a favor?
  • What strings are or were attached that kept you from being free?


Pinocchio is locked in a cage in a trailer, but Jiminy Cricket finds him.  Pinocchio misses Geppetto so much, and Geppetto continues his search for Pinocchio.  “I should have listened to you Jiminy.”  At one point, the trailer with Pinocchio passes right in front of Geppetto, but Pinocchio cannot hear Geppetto’s calls.

  • Who was your Geppetto, the person who did not give up on you?  This person may have also helped you find your sober self again.


The Blue Fairy reappears.  She asks him what he has been up to.  He was supposed to be proving himself honest, brave and loving.  Pinocchio lies to her.  His nose grows. The more he lies, the more his nose grows. In what ways is Pinocchio’s nose like

  • The emptiness you felt inside during your addiction
  • Your addiction
  • The self-hatred that grew inside you


“Lies keep growing until they are as plain as the nose on your face,” said the Blue Fairy.  Pinocchio promises never to lie again.  The Blue Fairy helps him break out of the cage and escape from Stromboli. Meanwhile Honest John is celebrating his ability to con Pinocchio and all of the money he got from Stromboli.  His acquaintance, the Coachman is also there.  Coachman wants Honest John to gather all of the disobedient boys so he can take them to Pleasure Island.  Honest John did just that. He even caught Pinocchio again.  You would think that he would resist temptation after the last incident, but, no.  Pinocchio joins the other troubled boys and goes to Pleasure Island.  Along the way he makes friends with a boy named Lampwick.   There is so much noise and so many bright lights and so many fun things to do, that Pinocchio does not even notice Jiminy Cricket is not there. Once the place is torn apart, everyone has vanished, except Lampwick and Pinocchio, who are smoking and drinking while playing pool. Jiminy finds Pinocchio and confronts the two.   Soon, Jiminy discovers their plan; Pleasure Island has the power to transform bad boys into donkeys( Jack Asses), which the Coachman sells into slavery.  Jiminy rushes back to get Pinocchio. Lampwick's transformation is complete, but Pinocchio and Jiminy escape the island. Unfortunately, Pinocchio has grown donkey ears and a tail.

Coachman took advantage of children who were struggling to make the right choices.  He tempted them with drugs, gambling, and constant fun.

  • Was there someone in your life who promised to take you away from all of it, and then ended up driving you deeper into your addiction?
  • What was your Pleasure Island? What did you hope to find in your addiction?
  • Who was your Lampwick
  • How can you remind yourself to always run things by your inner Jiminy Cricket before you act?


They go back home only to find that Geppetto, Figaro and Cleo are no longer there.  They left on a journey to find Pinocchio and never returned.  The Blue Fairy tells them that Geppetto has been swallowed by Monstro the Whale.  The pair start searching the ocean for Monstro with very little luck. When they ask sea creatures such as clams and seahorses, they swim and hide in fear at the mention of Monstro's name.  Once Monstro was found, Pinocchio was able to reunite with Geppetto, Figaro and Cleo. Geppetto was so glad to see Pinocchio, despite all of the trials they had been through.  Pinocchio soon thinks of a plan to escape Monstro by making him sneeze.  The enraged animal chases after him and his father. The whale destroys the raft, sending Pinocchio and Geppetto into the unforgiving sea. After witnessing his father almost drowning, Pinocchio grabs him and swims to shore as quick as he can, but it's too late. Even before he gets there, Monstro slams into a rocky wall, creating a forty foot tidal wave. Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy survive. When Jiminy looks for Pinocchio, he finds him lying face down in a large puddle, in which he has drowned.  Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy return home and grieve over Pinocchio. Then the Blue Fairy revives Pinocchio and transforms him into a real boy because he has now proved himself brave, truthful and unselfish.

  • When you were lost in your addiction, who grieved for you?
  • In what ways have you become or are you becoming brave, truthful and unselfish?
  • Now that you are returning honest, courageous and able to love, who welcomes you?
  • How does it feel to be real? To not have to lie and manipulate.  To be honest with yourself and others?


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