Play Therapy for Adults?


I often find that when people hear about Play Therapy they think about playing and then the thought goes to children playing. We have many transitions in our lives. More specifically, going from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. As we get older we either say or hear people comment “that’s childish,” or “I don’t do that anymore because I’m an adult.”

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But when you really think about it, many people express missing their childhood either because they didn’t have a good one and want a do over, or because they miss the fun things they used to do, or the people they used to engage with. I don’t know where it’s ever actually been written that you shouldn’t continue to play.

Play is so beneficial with children because it helps them better express themselves without words. There are plenty of people that come in my office and cannot articulate what they are going through or what they’ve been through. Adults can also benefit from play, there’s a way to help everyone through expressive therapy. Expressive therapy is an overarching umbrella where art, play, dance, music and other forms of expression are utilized to help individuals who are unable to find their words, grow through the healing process. I used the word grow as we should evolve as we heal through telling our story. There are ways we can rewrite our narrative through art, dance, Sandtray and writing. 

Mandala tray

Lately I’ve encouraged the adults I work with to take this journey of expressive therapy to grow and heal.  Some use journaling, art, or building a world in the sand when they are in my office. The expression on their face when they feel the sand or begin to create, shows enlightenment in their process.  It’s amazing to watch them come into the office and engage in play that they have not been able to do in so many years. I am so honored to be a part of that.

Why not find some playfulness in your life? There are adult leagues for sports, volleyball, kickball, soccer, people continue in their childhood sports for fitness, but the game and sportsmanship are beneficial as well. Or even the joy of taking a dance class. Some say “I wish I did that when I was younger,” there is no reason you cannot do it now.  Gardening gives us an excuse to play in the dirt and get messy. Going to a paint night with friends is therapeutic because of the creative process and fellowship with others.

Yes, we do have to be mindful of the fact that we’re not in the same space as when we were younger, so we adjust to what play can look like for us as adults.  I hear, “when I get more time,” or “when I retire,” and there’s a lot to say about when people get older. With more time on their hands they knit or do puzzles, and other things to help their minds to stay strong, but why not begin before you get to that point when you’re retired or older. Why not find the time to be playful today?  Can’t we all can benefit from finding time to balance between work and home. Just something to think about.

 I give you the challenge of finding play in your life to work out the stress in your day-to-day routine, and learn to enjoy the life you have at this day in time.

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