Play is the language of children according to Garry Landreth (who is internationally known for his writings and work in promoting the development of child-centred play therapy.) I believe play is also the language of many adults, it’s just that we are told to play is childish. Words are often not enough to share with someone a feeling, an idea or something that you saw but through play and creativity children as well as adults often find a way of working out those things that trouble, confuse or hurt them.
Working as a counsellor with children and young people has taught me about the importance of play in my life and that of children. It has also taught me that images made through words are no more powerful than images that are built with toys and craft stuff. Sharing through playfulness makes some events less traumatic and aids us to explore tragedy or confusion and to make sense of our relationships with others and our world we live in.
Most times adults in everyday life will direct and lead play with children but in a therapeutic play the child leads and directs the play as they need to whilst remaining safe and able to communicate without having their thoughts or feelings ignored, directed, guided or judged.
How often do you remember getting to be in charge of a time and space with an adult when you were a child?
There is a saying: Logic will get you from A to Z but imagination will take you everywhere! Albert Einstein. I love this quote because it always reminds me when I am with a child that they can teach me or remind me much about imagination and exploration.
In therapeutic work, children and young people are given a time and place where they can work out who, what and how they want to be in relation to others and their worlds. Through play and creativity we all can discover that we are full of interesting, beautiful and dark things and that all of it is ok. I see young people learn this in the work I do, but also adults who want to re-connect with their inner child so that they can connect better with their own children or children they spend time with.
I work with adults, children and young people therapeutically as a counsellor and also through therapeutic play I support parents, carers and others to build stronger, healthier relationships with children and young people.
I am passionate about my work and teaching adults to find their inner child can sometimes be tough but I strongly believe Tom Robbins when he said ‘it is never too late to have a happy childhood.’