To play is to see the pliability of things; to regard objects and beings that can seem unyielding and solid as sites where something new and original can be created.  Play is what makes us innovative: Our inventions are the result of playing with ideas that might seem unmovable. Play is also at the core of our attachments: Our ability to psychologically embrace our loved ones is dependent on our playful ability to see them as outside our heads, but also inside and carriable.

Play is what we do when we collaborate with others, especially when the collaboration is improvisational.  Play is joy in sex and the joy in cooking; it’s travel, partying, hypothesizing, daydreaming, and mind-wondering. It’s also at the core of social movements: Every time we push against authority, we’re searching for that place where there’s a corresponding give following our push, demonstrating that there’s more play in the relationship than the powerful want us to believe.

Play is also a central element in all therapy….or it’s not, and when it is not, nothing happens.  When we aren’t playing in therapy, we’re becoming rote, treating our clients more as machines that need fixing than complex and unpredictable living beings.  Non-playful therapy is paint-by-numbers, a poor and unartistic reproduction of the actual healing element in therapy.

Play is serious business.  Because the way humans play is the most human thing we do.

In this year’s New Perspectives on Treatment series, we dive headfirst, and thus playfully, into the topic of play.

Play: The Most Serious Thing We Do


Purple Crayons: Harold, Play, and the Seriousness of Play

Ross Ellenhorn, PhD, LICSW

Ellenhorn Founder and CEO

1PM - 2:00PM EST


Mentalize, But Make It Fun: How Playfulness Can Expand Perspective-Taking

Shelly Simpson, MSW, LICSW

Clinical Director and AMBIT Coordinator, Ellenhorn Los Angeles

1PM - 2:00PM EST


Playing with Expression: Why We Play, and How Expressive Therapies Can Help Our Clients

Teresa Dias, LMHC, RPT

Expressive Arts Therapist 

1PM - 2:00PM EST


Permission to Let Go: Playfulness and Free Choices in Mindfulness and Movement Practice

Lauren Pellettieri, LCSW RYT-200

PACT Clinician

1PM - 2:00PM EST