Healing Power of Play and Humor Highlighted in American Journal of Play

American Journal of Play News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700 museumofplay.org

May 31, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359, strien@thestrong.org

Healing Power of Play and Humor
Highlighted in Newly Published Book Excerpt
in the American Journal of Play

ROCHESTER, New York—Play, humor, and “gut feelings” in psychotherapy can have transformative healing powers according to clinical psychologist Terry Marks-Tarlow, PhD, who reveals how she employs these modalities in an excerpt from her newly released book (Clinical Intuition in Psychotherapy, W. W. Norton & Company) in the current issue of the American Journal of Play. Drawing from 30 years of clinical experience, Marks-Tarlow (a passionate, playful professional who enjoys sharing laughter, self-revelations, and even yoga with her patients) offers refreshing professional insights and approaches that can help others to heal disturbed minds.

According to Marks-Tarlow (pictured, right), play—a vital human instinct crucial to child development—maintains an important role in mental and physical health throughout the human lifespan. Whether initiated by therapist or patient, she writes, “the invitation to play is a bid for connection that allows coordination and taking turns. Always, the capacity to play signals safety in the room, and safety is necessary for novel expression and new coping to emerge.” Rich case vignettes and personal stories from her practice enliven the chapter and illustrate how Marks-Tarlow employs her instincts, humor, and playful attitude to inspire self-expression and healing in a therapeutic setting. (See full book excerpt at www.americanjournalofplay.org)

Also in the current issue of the American Journal of Play:

“Playwork, Play Deprivation, and Play: An Interview with Fraser Brown,” professor in playwork and lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University in United Kingdom. Brown reviews his work with play-deprived abandoned and abused Romanian orphans. After about six months of playful interaction, he tells the Journal, previously neglected and abused children “were no longer sitting rocking, staring vacantly into space; they were playing together with lots of noise and laughter.” He decries the decline of play in modern Western society as “potentially dangerous both for the individual child and for society in general,” and embraces the benefits of adventure playgrounds popular in Great Britain, which are much more imaginative, less risk-averse, and give children control of their own play spaces. Brown also details the inventive, exuberant games he observed among materially deprived Roma children in small villages in Transylvania among whom, he says, are the “happiest (children) you are ever likely to meet.” 

Change Your Shoes, Change Your Life: On Object Play and Transformation in a Woman’s Story,” by Kay Young, professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Beginning with the adage, “You can’t really know somebody till you walk a mile in her shoes,” Young asks why adults play dress-up and looks at such genres as the “Cinderella” fairy tale, the film comedy Some Like it Hot, and Pamela (an 18th-century epistolary novel, written in the form of a series of letters) to investigate the role of object play in the making of magical thinking and adult-identity re-formation.

A Jester’s Guide to Creative See(k)ing Across Disciplines by Diane Rosen, award-winning artist and educator. Rosen examines the role of the jester over many centuries and in many cultures in light of its wider implications about imaginative play as a catalyst for knowledge and creativity.

“The Outdoor Recess Activities of Children at an Urban School: Longitudinal and Intraperiod Patterns” by Robyn M. Holmes, Professor of Psychology at Monmouth University. Based on the study of 149 parochial-school students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade, this article explores children’s outdoor recess activities in an urban setting—with a focus on how age, gender, and size of playgroup influence their outdoor play preferences—and examines change in children’s activity preferences over a single recess period.

The American Journal of Play, an interdisciplinary scholarly journal devoted solely to the study of play, is published by The Strong in Rochester, New York. The Journal is available free online at www.journalofplay.org.