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Silber, L.M. (2020). Play for a Change; Therapeutic Action in Contemporary Child Psychotherapy. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 19(2):109-114.

(2020). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 19(2):109-114

Play for a Change; Therapeutic Action in Contemporary Child Psychotherapy

Laurel M. Silber, PsyD


The Play for a Change Conference (Bryn Mawr College, November 2019)*evoked the feeling of play in an enriched collaborative exchange of ideas. This volume gathered the ideas presented in the conference into further conversation with other authors of this volume. This special issue weaves in enrichments from developmental theory, trauma research, neuroscience, cognitive science, and attachment theory to explore the multiple aspects of play, including changes in its quality and manifestations in our culture and its current uses in psychotherapy with children, adolescents, and their families.

While it is beyond the scope of this introduction to offer a comprehensive historical context for the study of play, I intend to share two reflections on play by some of our close observers of children, Piaget and Winnicott. This volume of JICAP intends to build upon their insights.

“Play is the answer to how does anything new come about” (Piaget, 1950).

“It may very well be that we have missed something … I am reaching for a new statement on playing” (p. 39) … “I am making a significant distinction between the meanings of the noun ‘play’ and the verbal noun ‘playing,’” (40) for … “playing is doing” (41) and … “reminded of what we owe Freud but also of what we owe to the natural and universal thing called playing” (41). The “precariousness of play” … has to do with the loss of a “place” or “cultural location” … potentially a failure of “environmental provision” to co-create a “space” for “the child to surprise himself or herself … (51)” “It is not inside, not outside, it occurs in a place built in the overlap.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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