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February 20, 2018


By Dr. Richard Boyum

"Playful" is a wonderful word. We do not have a counterpart or polar opposite for it (i.e. "workful"). As counselors, we need to know and experience the value of playfulness.

Much of the developmental work that we do in elementary school is playful. Likewise, the experiences we provide are pleasant and enjoyable and feel much more like play than they do work. This is one of the things that allows developmental guidance to be so effective. It is equally important to realize (to become fully aware of) how much hard work is involved in good counseling.

To continue to work hard year after year one needs to be able to play. If we fill ourselves up with playful experiences (i.e. play-fulness), we can continue to give authentically to those we serve. Play is not so much a particular activity as it is a state of mind. A playful act is any experience that is healthy and transcends us away from everyday work-related activities.

Playful activities can be passive or active, indoors or outdoors, physical or sedentary, cognitive or affective and solitary or with others. As counselors we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our clients to build in playful time. This type of activity is truly recreational. For counselors who are so used to having some nothing-to-do time can be playful as well. Take time to sit down and list the activities and the time you spend in playfulness. Trust your intuition and see whether you are spending enough time being playful. Be CARE-FUL and THOUGHT-FUL enough to stay PLAYFUL.