Play: Rise VanFleet, PhD


Apr 26

Are you having any fun today? If not, why not?

​​Play is important. It eases our stress and ​actually improves our work.

​Caring for animals is serious work. ​You've got a never-ending caseload, and the demands of the work often wear you down physically and emotionally.

A playful spirit can transform your mood and others' even in the midst of the stress and urgency.  

​Rise VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC

Dr. Rise VanFleet is a play therapist and president of the International Institute for Animal-Assisted Play Therapy. In this episode, she shared some of the many benefits of play:

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    ​Increased creativity and flexibility
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    Better physical and mental health
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    ​Improved performance and productivity
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    Stronger relationships
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    Emotional contagion in a positive direction (instead of being dragged down by someone else's negative emotions)

​If your workplace isn't very playful, Rise recommends starting slowly by interjecting small bits of affirming humor (never sarcasm!) into your interactions. She says everyone can be playful, but it can be uncomfortable for some people because somewhere along the line they were penalized for it and learned to suppress that side of themselves. As with all behavior changes, start small and reward baby steps.

Rise's book, The Human Half of Dog Training, also offers lots of strategies for ​making tough conversations less stressful (not necessarily playful, but definitely easier). Check it out. You may also be interested in Rise's Facebook group, Animals and Play.

What are your best tips for ​finding more play in your life? How do you think play can be an asset in an animal hospital or other animal-care workplace?

Share what you do and how it helps you in the comments below.

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