Aysu Hazar, a psychotherapist who practices in Turkey and the UK, offered I Now Pronounce You Playmates: How To Play With Your Partner with David Chislett during the 2021 Playful Creative Summit about the use of play in psychotherapy. She initially focused on the use of play and playfulness in couples therapy, even writing her master’s thesis on the subject. But she has expanded her counseling to teach in schools and businesses, to children and adults, single people and couples alike.
Common Summit themes emerged in this discussion: that play and playfulness are very individually defined, and can be integrated into a person’s life as a way of being; that playfulness can increase feelings of safety and security; that play can help people more fully engage in and express all emotions, even uncomfortable emotions such as grief. Chislett shared a brilliant intuition that Hazar’s office might look more like a child’s playroom than a typical therapeutic setting, and she agreed, noting that if her clients see toys and playful elements in her therapy room, she is creating a space which supports creativity and even silliness.
I’m only representing a tiny bit of this nuanced talk, but Chislett’s observation so struck me that I’m intent to focus on it. I’m going to extrapolate from Hazar’s answer. If we add toys and fun elements to any of our environments, whether those are fidgets, a stuffed toy or two, a calendar with cartoons on each page, a piece of furniture with bright colors and a pattern that makes us smile, your favorite whatever, we’re improving our health, supporting our coping mechanisms and giving ourselves permission to relax. One of my favorites is the Lego figurine below, a lovely lady who was a gift to me from my son years ago, when he would proudly save his allowance for little trinkets.
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