Plato (429-347 B.C.) reportedly observed, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Doll Play at Stump

         A few days ago a new drama played on the Stump.  Hopefully, it represented just that – play.

Maybe I have watched too many TV dramas with kids being treated by therapist for trauma using dolls.

I looked up the Association for Play Therapy  (APT) and discovered APT defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

It appears that in order for Play to be labeled therapeutic by the APT a theoretical model and trained therapist is required.  This definition tickled my acceptance of a formatted reality.  Certainly there must be other authentic definitions of Play Therapy.

Further research revealed “the psychodynamic view, where people (especially children) will engage in play behavior in order to work through their interior obfuscations and anxieties. In this way, play therapy can be used as a self-help mechanism, as long as children are allowed time for ‘free play’ or ‘unstructured play.’ Normal play is an essential component of healthy child development.”

         AH!! This description feels much better.  I believe we all have the potential for self-healing.  I also acknowledge that sometimes extra guidance is needed to tap our inner resources.

The behavior I observed as an untrained therapist was two young girls acting out an interaction between a male and a female doll.  You might note that the male doll was dark skinned and held by a dark skinned girl.  While the blonde female doll was animated by a pale skinned light haired girl.  You might have also noticed that the male doll was missing an arm and concluded that his animator was the cause.

As the scene plays out the male doll asked the female doll on a date.  Immediate there is a flurry of activity with one doll bashing the other down into submission.

This scene is repeated several times.

Can you guess who the aggressor was?

If you choose the male doll, you would be incorrect.

I asked the child with the male amputee what had happened to his arm.   She sweetly replied that a male relative had pulled the arm off.

In case you think I lurk about taking pictures and spy on kids, I need to inform you that the actors personally invited me to observe their ‘play’.

Remember, “play therapy can be used as a self-help mechanism, as long as participants are allowed time for ‘free play’ or ‘unstructured play.’ Normal play is an essential component of …. development.”

Don’t forget to PLAY today.

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