In my lifetime, I have seen the full circle, from neighborhood games of hide and seek and kick the can with everyone playing, to the extreme of playing video games alone, back to encouraging free-form neighborhood games and social connection. I think that games that taught leadership, caused us to be creative and cunning, games that involved physical, psychological, emotional, and social elements led to self esteem and confidence later in life. We organized our own play, it was not some date chosen by our parents. I encouraged my son away from solitary, video-oriented experiences, instead to play physical games, chess, board games, and card games that encouraged strategic and critical thinking. Twelve years ago I left a carear in investment management to become a child psychologist and play therapist. I spend my days helping children play through trauma, grief and loss from death, divorce, and adoption. I find my best work is often teaching parents how to play with their children to rebuild their relationships. There is no better way to connect with a sullen teenager than through their own game. When I played with my children and my adolescents, I learned their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and molded their characters. Being a play therapist has made my life rich in the smiles of children, the appreciation of parents, and the improvement of my community, all through the healing power of play.
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