The Power of Observation- A Skill Worth Developing

I am currently taking my practicum class for play therapy and it is simply fascinating what I am learning!

I have always loved arriving at places such as the mall and just sit and watch the people. I love to watch the verbal and non-verbal communication that occurs on numerous levels that at times it feeds my soul. This skill of “people-watching” is being fine tuned and it is awesome.

For instance I just watched a video on the HuffPost Parents Facebook page of a dog licking a baby ( and even though the dog is finishes his task, the baby keeps moving and positioning himself/herself in front of the dog to receive more. At first watch, this is a cute video—a feel good moment between a baby and a pet.

But there is more there….it tells me about the pleasure derived from the experience for the baby. I am now able to understand what is happening inside the baby’s brain and why she/he keeps seeking more. Aww, I would not necessarily have seen all that I see without this training.

I often think of photographers as persons who happen to grasp the importance of observation and can capture a picture that “says 1000 words.” But I am learning it is so important in life, especially in working with children.

Oftentimes, my hubby asks about what I see when I work with children in play therapy. To be honest, I am lost on the meaning at the time I am working with them most of the time. However, the themes develop and meaning is derived about the child’s life. It is fascinating how play for children conveys so much about their internal world and reality. All this would not be possible to do if it weren’t for the power of observation.

Sometimes this skill leads to powerful emotion. Watching others work out the “stuff” of life without necessarily having the verbal skills can be heart wrenching and exciting all at the same time.

I have used this skill in my current setting, but enhancement is crucial to moving into the realm of therapy. Listening and observing relays much about a person’s story that without it, I am not sure effectiveness would even be possible. This power provides the gateway to engage and to be in relationship with the child.

It is an exciting time! Next time you see children playing, enjoy it and think about it as storytelling. You will be surprised what you learn!


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