The prerequisites for Play and Attachment are Play 101 and Neufeld Intensive I: Making Sense of Kids which can be taken individually either as a Scheduled Online Class (when available) or via Self-Paced Study.

Course Description

There could not be two more important human drives than attachment and play. Our preeminent need is for togetherness, in all its variations and permutations. And play is the medium through which Nature is most able to have its way with us. It should not be surprising then that attachment and play have a complex and intriguing relationship. When distilled to the essence, we could say that attachment is meant to support play and play is meant to support attachment. In fact the most important play of all is play that serves attachment, whether it is priming attachment, practicing attachment, or preserving attachment. No relationship should be without the support that play provides, including marriage. And no family should be without a culture of attachment-serving play.

Prerequisites for this six session course are Play 101 and Neufeld Intensive One. The course itself is a prerequisite for the eight-session course on Play and Emotion.


The content of this course is universally applicable as the instinct to play is inherent to our nature and absolutely integral to becoming fully human and humane. We all need to play, and when running into attachment difficulties or trouble, even more so. As with all the Neufeld Institute courses, the general thrust is to make sense of children, but in this case, Dr. Neufeld also unravels why adults need to play as well as take the lead in play. This course is intended for parents, educators and helping professionals, as well as adults who are interested in how play can serve their friendships and marriages.

Formats & Fees

This course is available in the ONLINE CAMPUS COURSE format. See Course Format Options for format delivery, access, and content details.

Please note that this course is the second of three in our PLAY series (preceded by Play 101 and followed by Play and Emotion). The Play 101 prerequisite must be completed before registering.

Tuition includes a four-month Virtual Campus study pass. See More On Online Campus Courses for further information on our two campus course formats (Self-Paced Study and Scheduled Online Class). Visit the course details page to register. If there is an upcoming Scheduled Online Class it will be posted directly above the Self-Paced Study button on the left-hand side.

Course Outline

Session One - How ATTACHMENT serves play
The course begins with an exploration of how attachment serves play, including a special section on the conditions that give rise to emergent play where the seeds of individuality are sprouted.

Session Two - How PLAY serves attachment
Play serves attachment in at least six different ways, including priming attachments as well as protecting relationships against the wear and tear of impulsive emotional expression and even defensive detachment. Play is the ultimate primer for human relationships and should be employed right from the beginning with our children. Certainly every relationship needs the support that play can provide. In this session participants will learn how to playfully collect their loved ones as well as how play can help save their marriages.

Session Three - Play and the SIX WAYS of attaching
In this session, we follow play through the six stages of attachment, discovering how each stage first appears and is practiced in the play mode. We expand on playing with touch, playing with sameness, playing with belonging, playing with loyalty, playing with significance, playing with love, playing with secrets, and playing with exclusivity. A consciousness of the role of play informs how we can harness its power to help our children fully develop their capacity for relationship.

Session Four - Play and the Hierarchical Attachment Instincts: alpha and dependence
The hierarchical nature of attachment creates many difficulties in societies where dependence is often resisted, alpha is inappropriate, and a passion for equality eclipses hierarchical realities. Play comes to the rescue here, even giving birth to a ‘caring alphahood’ dynamic that can inform future parenting. Once the role of play is understood, it should not surprise that the absence of hierarchical play can be devastating developmentally. Included in this session is an exploration of how play can be used to address the bully dynamic as well as to sow the earliest seeds of natural democracy.

Session Five - Play and the Protective Instincts: counterwill and shyness
The attachment instincts of counterwill and shyness tend to be problematic in our society. Play provides a way through for both of these instincts, providing a validity to the natural impulses yet protecting against the negative repercussions in relationships. We explore how play can be used to both vent counterwill and circumvent counterwill, making play a primary instrument of behaviour management for those who are inclined to resist doing what they are told. Included in this session is an informed explanation for why Plato warned us against keeping children to their studies by compulsion rather than play.

Session Six - Creating a CULTURE of attachment-serving play
The first and primary purpose of play is to help create the formative attachments a child requires. The primary purpose of traditional culture was to protect this kind of play. In the absence of such a culture, we now need to take matters into our own hands, creating a culture of attachment-serving play to both create and preserve the relationships our children need. We explore customs and rituals that can serve this purpose - at home, at school, and even in our marriages.

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