Why Use Play Therapy with Adults?
Many people I talk to assume I only work with children when I tell them I am a play therapist. For some reason, we tend to associate “playing” with children, instead of encouraging people of all ages to play and create. After all, playing is just doing something because it is fun and enjoyable, without agenda or goal.
For example, an old friend of mine is a runner. I mean, she loves to run every single day. She calls it “therapy for her feet.” She does not run because it is healthy and good for her. She runs because she truly loves it. She runs in six inches of snow, 95 degree weather and when it is raining.
Play therapy emphasizes the importance of being in the moment and processing sensory information to work through emotions instead of focusing most of your attention on verbal and cognitive communication. Before we started using words and developing our language skills, we observed our environment and focused on information provided by our various senses.
As adults, we have work responsibilities (creating marketing materials, new gadgets, finding ways to be more productive, etc.), along with making time for our spouse, raising our kids to be healthy, confident, productive adults (helping with homework, playing with them, cooking meals, bath and bedtime stories), along with managing stress in healthy ways.
Entrance into adulthood rarely occurs without experiencing some emotional trauma; an argument with a loved one, family transitions, moves, feeling let down by others, unhealthy relationships, etc. Trauma is first experienced through the body so it makes sense that trauma would also be healed through sensory experience.
When we laugh, smile, tell jokes and have fun, it is much easier to manage the mundane, boring tasks and parts of our day. It is also easier to manage feels of depression and anxiety. This is true for all ages.
Consider for a moment, all of the adults that are excited with anticipation for the new Star Wars movies. Many of them first started watching Star Wars as a child, discovering Chewbacca, the wise advice of Yoda and the special connection between Princess Leah, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Play therapy helps adults reconnect with the joy of childhood, believing anything is possible, getting lost in the act of having fun. Men traditionally have trouble sharing their feelings. However, they are much more open to chatting when involved in a project, building a Lego structure or playing Star Wars.
There is something magical about playing… We get excited about considering solutions to problems, believing we can be anything and do anything.
Have you played today?
All the best,