Play, Imagination and Humour: Pathway to Creative Living


Our tendency to play is understood as central to our nature linked to curiosity and exploratory motives. Playing is associated with the positive affects of joy, excitement and pleasure. Research shows the cognitive, emotional and social benefits to children. Psychoanalysts link play to the ability to distinguish subjective from objective reality, the inner and outer worlds, with far reaching appreciation of Arts and Culture. Beyond the therapeutic value, the importance of playing extends to understanding others with a useful place in the modern work environment.

Programme details

Session 1

Introduction; How can we understand Creativity, measure it and value it? As a species we are distinguished by our symbolic, imaginative and creative ability. Freud’s‘ Jokes and the Unconscious’ uses of humour, dreaming and reverie will be mentioned

Session 2

Continuation of Introduction; leading on to focusing specifically on Play.

Playing in childhood; the developmental track from Sensory Motor, through Imaginative Play to Games with Rules (moral development)

Session 3

Winnicott’s significant contribution to play theory including transitional objects, potential space and distinguishing external from internal reality. Importance of Boundaries and Space

The ‘squiggle’ game

Session 4

The child’s world of ‘Make Believe’ continued. Imaginative friends, imaginative games, auto therapeutic features

Session 5

The Uses of Enchantment, fairy tales , Bettelheim’s thesis, myths, legends and story telling

Session 6

Narrative features. Importance of ‘Catharsis ; Therapeutic aspects including Psychodrama, Constellations. Sandplay

Session 7

How does our enjoyment of stories emerge in a world of film, TV, ‘live theatre’ on line streaming?

Session 8

A consideration of the instant success of Eric Berne’s 1960, ‘The Games People Play’, leading to the negative as well as the positive aspects of playing ‘psychological ‘games

Session 9

Continuation:- Games in Organisations and systems at work including, ‘role plays’, team builds, selection procedures

Session 10

Continuing Playing at Work

Session 11

A consideration of how play occurs on-line, . Cyber Psychology. What do we need to worry about?

Session 12

Summing up; Uses and Abuses of the imaginative and playing capacity


Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


Dr Diana Shmukler


Diana Shmukler is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychotherapy, trainer, supervisor and clinician. She has published and lectures widely giving workshops in UK, Europe and Australia on Developmental Psychology, Psychotherapy, Supervision, Counselling and Consulting as well as working with individual clients.

Course aims

To explore and understand how the human capacity for play, imagination and humour leads to life enhancement and enrichment, by creating a path to the pleasure of expressing the uniqueness of the self.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have a better appreciation of;

  • How the development of imagination and play allow for the expression of a unique self
  • Expand their perspective to the value of play not only to children also adult life, social and work
  • To consider the cultural features and appreciation which accrue to imaginative individuals as well as some of the negative possibilities

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.