VIDEO: Using Play with Adults in Therapy

Dafna Lender Demonstrates Three Proven Techniques

Feelings of connectedness and safety are usually relayed in nonverbal ways that therapists too often ignore: through small moments of eye contact, touch, and ultimately the sharing of joy and delight. But how do you go beyond words to cultivate a deeper sense of attachment in therapy?

According to Dafna Lender, program director of The Theraplay Institute, incorporating playful exercises in your sessions is great place to start, and it works equally well with adults as with kids. Here, she demonstrates three of her favorite techniques.

As Dafna explains, exercises like these can quickly establish security and trust. Click here to read her recent Networker article, “A Playful Path to Attachment,” where she shares the story of how she used the Surprise Paper Punch exercise to help a struggling mother and her adopted daughter learn a different way to bond.       

Dafna Lender

Dafna Lender, LCSW, is an international trainer and supervisor for practitioners who work with children and families. She is a certified trainer and supervisor/consultant in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Dafna’s expertise is drawn from 25 years of working with families with attachment in many settings: at-risk after school programs, therapeutic foster care, in-home crisis stabilization, residential care and private practice. Dafna’s style, whether as a therapist or teacher, is combining the light-hearted with the profound by bringing a playful, intense and passionate presence to every encounter. Dafna is the co-author of Theraplay: The Practitioner’s Guide (2020). She teaches and supervises clinicians in 15 countries in 3 languages: English, Hebrew and French. Visit her website.

Chris Lyford

Chris Lyford is the Senior Editor at Psychotherapy Networker. Previously, he was Assistant Director and Editor of the The Atlantic Post, where he wrote and edited news pieces on the Middle East and Africa. He also formerly worked at The Washington Post, where he wrote local feature pieces for the Metro, Sports, and Style sections. Contact: