Play Cure (Susanna Crossman)


Susanna Crossman’s article Play Cure examines the role of play in mental and psychological healing, based on her experience as a play therapist and insights on the subject from philosophy, art and psychology.  


We have all the reason to believe that the clinical environment in question has long extended beyond the hospital, right into our lives. It is therefore high time the play also goes beyond the conventional boundaries, overreach the childhood, and unfold into life.


In a clinical setting, playful activities are not distractions; they take patients deep into trauma – and out the other side



 ‘Take a pen. Place it on the paper. Draw wherever you want. However you want. You know, Paul Klee said: “Drawing is like taking a line for a walk.”’ In the hospital workshop, I turn towards a patient, smile and continue: ‘So, let’s draw together. We could draw houses, and draw a path between our homes. Let’s grab paints. Turn the paper around. Upside down. If you don’t mind, I can paint your sky and you can paint mine… We can play and make…’


For more than 20 years, I’ve been saying these sentences, playing and making, as a clinical arts therapist, specialising in mental health, and as a lecturer and consultant using creative techniques with doctors, hospital directors, nursing managers and entrepreneurs. Guided by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Jackson Pollock, and by Plato, I spend my days tapping into what the phenomenologist and philosopher of play Eugen Fink calls the ‘peach skin of things’. It glows.



You can read the full article here on Aeon or download a pdf copy below.


Play Cure _ Aeon Essays.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.5 MB


For further reading on some books and thinkers mentioned in the article, please browse our library where you can find out more on Eugen Fink, Homo Ludens, etc.