Profectum Master Class: Are Vampires Real?
“Are Vampires Real?”
The Role of Symbolic Play in Emotional Development and Mental Health | Serena Wieder, PhD | Imagine three 6-year old boys as they debate this question, “Are vampires real?” One, excitedly insists they are just cartoons you play over and over again and feels happy and excited. The second insists they are real, clinging to his mother as he tremulously proclaims they drink your blood and he is not safe. The third lies on the floor and whispers he is happy and excited too. What makes the perceptions and emotions of these boys so different as they each climb the symbolic developmental ladder? How do we support this important journey to expand and symbolize the full range of emotions and understand what is real or not, what is safe or not, and regulate anxiety and behavior. This journey often begins when children begin to recognize predators, a lion is after all not a kitty cat, and discover the good guy-bad guy saga in life. The other side of this journey is developing kindness, fairness, empathy, morality and knowing when to stand up for your beliefs.
This master class will examine the hierarchy of emotional development and the impact of sensory and motor processing challenges, developmental competencies, the purpose of magical thinking to overcome fears and anxiety, and the transitions towards reality testing. It will also explore how parents and caregivers respond to these emotions and reflect on their own and their child’s emotional experience. Symbolic play derives from internal motivation, does not have to follow the rules, both transcends and reflects reality, and provides a place to communicate ideas and feelings without acting out in the safety of relationships.