I love watching animals play. Whether it’s my dog chasing her frisbee, the cats chasing shadows or the horses racing around the field, there is a feel to it that just feels right.
Why have we humans, especially the adults, lost sight of this?
Why do we routinely turn ‘play’ into ‘work’ by making it about winning, or insisting it be ‘educational’?
Play is special and serves a crucial purpose, otherwise our animals wouldn’t be doing it. Play may be the greenhouse within which we try out and grow new tentative aspects of ourselves. Or it may be the outhouse where we can safely express and release what could otherwise be damaging to relationships. Without play in our lives – whatever our age – it is hard to grow, to heal or to truly learn.
But for play to be effective it has to be true play. This means no winners or losers, just willing participants; no consequences or outcomes, just the process; and it needs to be emotionally safe for all involved.
Play is one of the topics we explore at our Focus training in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy and build in to our counselling and parenting sessions and resources.