Playful States of Mind

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Organised by:

The Association for Psychosocial Studies (event organised by three BPC Founding Scholars Dr Noreen Giffney, Prof Lynn Froggett and Prof Candida Yates)

19 December 2022

Time: 09:45 - 17:00

Price: £45 non-members, £35 Association for Psychosocial Studies members (waged), £25 Association for Psychosocial Studies members (unwaged)


Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre
Room G10, Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre
43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck, University of London
United Kingdom

Map of address


A one-day experiential event about play, focusing on its psychological function and importance in our emotional lives. This event is informed by psychoanalytic and psychosocial theories of play, creativity and imagination.

What do the terms ‘play’, ‘playing’ and ‘playfulness’ mean in different contexts? How might we understand play as both a doing and a being; an activity and a state of mind? In what ways might play be related to creativity and destructiveness? What kinds of feelings might be enacted, evoked or contained while engaging in moments of play? How do we play and what might we be communicating to ourselves and others, consciously and unconsciously, in our play and in the ways in which we play? Why is a capacity for play so important for our mental health and general wellbeing? How might psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies help us to reflect on our experiences of play? These questions will frame our event.

This event will offer a series of immersive experiences centred around play, to help us to reflect on and talk about our individual and collective encounters with play. The emphasis will be on experience, reflection and conversation. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and be prepared for an encounter with the unknown.

This event will be of interest to anyone interested in play, imagination and creativity. It will be of particular interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors, group analysts, play therapists, arts therapists, social workers and social care workers, mental health workers, youth workers, artists, performers and curators, as well as academic researchers and students in the fields of psychosocial studies, cultural studies, and in the arts, humanities and social sciences more broadly.

Places are limited so early registration is advised. Participants are requested to register only if they are available to attend the whole day, as this event makes use of a group experience.

The event brochure is available here:

Reading Material
We will discuss the following two pieces in the afternoon, so please read them in advance and bring along copies with you:

  • Patricia Townsend, ‘Play and Playing’ in Creative States of Mind Psychoanalysis and the Artist’s Process (London and New York: Routledge 2019), pp. 59-67.
  • Lynn Froggett, ‘Deep Play and Simulation in Urban Space: Of Art and Video-Games’ in Deep Play and Simulation in Urban Space: Of Art and Video-Games (London: British Council 2018), pp. 16-35.

This event is organised by three of the BPC’s Founding Scholars: Dr Noreen Giffney (psychoanalytic psychotherapist; Ulster University, and member of the BPC’s Editorial Board for New Associations), Prof Lynn Froggett (University of Central Lancashire and Chair, Association for Psychosocial Studies), and Prof Candida Yates (Bournemouth University and BPC Scholars Network Committee).

This event is hosted by the Association for Psychosocial Studies, and co-sponsored by ‘Psychoanalysis +’ and the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre.

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