Playing in the Psychotherapeutic Process

Playing as depicted in art

Children at Play - Harry Brooker‘Children at play’, Harry Brooker
Children's Games‘Children’s Games’ Peter Bruegel
765px-Ralph_Hedley_The_tournament_1898‘The Tournament’ Ralph Hedley
'Kids'_painting_by_Louis_Pohl‘Kids’, Louis Pohl
kids_at_the_seaside_playing_in_tide_pool_d52644bc59171b5f0bdb99f53ead0506‘Kids at the Seaside Playing in Tide Pool’, Elizabeth Blaylock

Playing has an influential role in the Dramatherapeutic process, as well as in human life.

The ancient Greek philosophers were the first supporters of Playing from the beginning of human life. 

Do not use force in training the children, but rather play” Plato, Politeia

Indeed, playing represents an essential part in every child’s life, necessary not only for entertainment but also for his emotional, spiritual and physical development. Its role is so important that it is recognized as one of the basic rights of children, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Equally significant is the importance of Playing in the adult phase of our lives. The activities in which we engage through play reveal many aspects of our personality, freeing our mind and our imagination. Through Playing, we are given the opportunity to further develop our emotional intelligence and sense of humor, elements necessary for achieving balance in life and harmonious relationships with others and our environment. A key element of Playing is pleasure. Children and adults seek ways to be happy and learn about life and themselves through Playing.

Freud (1907) mentions that the creative activity of adults has many similarities with Play, as both activities spring from imagination, are crossed by the desire to connect past, present and future and reconstitute reality in a more pleasant light.

Thus the element of Playing is especially helpful in the healing process by creating a pleasant atmosphere and offering the therapist an opportunity to better understand the patient/client’s character and symptoms through symbolic actions. These symbolic actions can be considered equivalent to verbal communication where there is difficulty in expressing thoughts and emotions

>>The link below shows photographs from the book Toy Stories: Photos of children from around the world and their favourite things by the Italian photographer, Gabriele Galimbreti. The photographs depict children from different parts of the world next to their toys. The book is a product of research that lasted 2 ½ years, and was aimed to record the items considered valuable by children from 58 different countries. Galimbreti spent the whole day with each child’s family before taking the photographs. In many cases, the children’s toys reflected not only their needs but also the social reality surrounding them. For example, in a poor village in Zambia children found a box with sunglasses which had fallen off a passing truck. This toy quickly became their favourite; they played “market” selling the precious glasses from one child to another. It may be observed from the photographs that the children’s toys not only reflected their personal preferences but also their economic status, priorities, cultural origins and social norms.

Ancient Greek Toys:

  • Athyrma
  • Stromvos