The Power of Playdough!

Power of play doughA Professional Practice Workshop by the RDT team.
At dlalanathi we have had a practice of hosting fellow professionals working with children and families for professional practice workshops in which we focus on learning new play skills. Each workshop has a theme and there are usually two or three play skills which are taught for participants to use in practice.
Our first professional practice workshop of 2021 happened in August and it was a delight to be face to face with social workers, social auxiliary workers and community workers from different organisations.
In August we focused on play dough and taught three different ways of using play dough with children and families. Each participant made their own playdough, many commented that this was their first time making playdough. At dlalanathi we love playdough so much we were very happy to be part of their first exposure to it!
We then asked participants to make an object out of their dough, and as they did, the silence that permeated the room was peaceful and serene. Participants invested their time and energy into making all manner of objects. As one participant said “No one knows if there are flaws or mistakes in my object. I can’t be judged for what I am making.”
When we asked participants if this workshop met their expectations one participant said “Yes, it made me realise that there is a lot for me to do within me so that I can be there for others.”
This is the power of playdough. It is not that we wanted people to make an object in order to complete a task or even to “get it right,” there is no such thing, the play dough object is about the sensory and emotional connection with a beautifully pliable material that requires more imagination than thought, more presence than analysis. Another participant said “Doing my object gave me a sense of self-determination, it was what my mind wanted to do, without any judgement from anyone.”
Whatever emerges from the playdough is simply all about oneself in that present moment and so it could be that one’s needs, sadness, fears and joys arise and that is ok. What is within us needs some safe space to be expressed, and this is what working with something like playdough can do.
“…the past always goes with you if not dealt with and I think I still need closure.”
When we are aware of what is needing attention, hopefully we can access the support to attend to it. This is especially important when one is in the helping professions and giving so much out to others.
At dlalanathi we love play and use play to connect, to heal, to communicate because it is a non-threatening way of slowing down, being present with ourselves, and simply enjoying a moment of play that is healthy and legitimate – even (especially) for adults!