The Liminal Play approach

Liminal Play’s approach is awareness-based systems change with strong relational focus. This incorporates principles from Gestalt, various systems perspectives, and appreciative enquiry, amongst others.

The formats are specially chosen to bring clients into contact with the under-recognised value of the right brain and the body through mapping, metaphor and play.

Each change practitioner brings their own inner stance, the way they engage with the world. These are the some of the key principles which shape my work:

1. Reality as a pathway to possibility

Some people find reality an uninspiring and unlikely place to look for the seeds of the future, but a phenomenological perspective says otherwise. Like the soil in which a seed falls, reality is a rich and fertile ground.

Deepening our awareness of ‘what is’ and developing tolerance for ambiguity and discomfort allows those dormant possibilities to emerge. Gestalt’s ‘Paradoxical Theory of Change’ suggests this is the way we identify and take lasting action. A meaningful response requires us to be in touch with both our reality and what draws us forward.  

Photo showing two small LEGO Serious Play models placed on top of a journal with writing in the background.
Image of a LEGO Serious Play build comprised of a central model and four surrounding models.

2. Attending to the hedgerows and the field

Those who have spent time in the liminal moments of life recognise these are uncomfortable but fertile places where – with careful listening – it can be possible to hear the whispering of the future.

It is also important to turn around and see the wider whole, a systemic view that speaks to the interconnectedness of all life. Working in a systemic way allows us to acknowledge the unseen currents which shape the ocean of our lives and work, creating nourishment and vitality in the world in which we live.  

3. Being human together

Engaging with our sense of common humanity is the tap which allows meaning and wellbeing to flow, in ourselves and those we meet. It supports greater ‘contact’ – a Gestalt term for the quality of our relational experience of each other. Experiencing relational presence helps us imagine and empathise with another human mind, expanding the boundaries of care and compassion, and desiring good for them as well as goodness within ourselves.  

Relational presence can be invited by creating opportunities for shared vivid experiences. Storytelling is one of the simplest examples, woven into our humanity and helping us make collective sense of our lives. Encounters with awe, wonder and what is ‘really-real’ create lasting connections too. When something shifts and ‘me’ becomes ‘us’, we experience a felt-sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Photo of a young woman leaning against a table smiling at a LEGO Serious Play model. She is Caucasian and is wearing a blue top. The LEGO model is in focus.
A LEGO Serious Play model shows the torso of a minifig holding a heavily laden wheelbarrow. There is a red X and a fountain on the same baseplate.

4. An attitude of playful enquiry

When enquiring at the edges of our knowing, a playful approach can lead to surprising discoveries. Our accepted ways of knowing are generally limited to the left brain’s functions – rational, tidy and conveyed within the limits of language, there’s so much more we can access. Mapping, metaphor and play are all examples of ways we can engage our felt-senses in service of meaningful change.

Our right brains’ experience of the world is rich, holistic and undaunted by ambiguity. Centring an enquiry on metaphor, symbolism or the visuospatial connections of mapping requires the intentional choice to slow down and quieten our busy minds. In doing so, new perspectives, textures and meaning arise, bringing clarity that often surprises.

Play is wired into our biology, a force that helps us enlarge our world and find fulfilment and creative growth. It has been described as our body’s preferred way of learning and as training for the unexpected. The activity is less important than the feeling, so attuning to a sense of playfulness is the key.

The insight, linkages and meaning which emerges from these contexts feels inexplicably real yet undeniably truthful for those present, and are typically richer, more relevant and longer lasting than verbal-only approaches.

Curious to know more? 

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Liminal Play uses the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method described in the LEGO Group Open Source Guide made available by LEGO under a Creative Commons Licence ‘Attribution Share Alike’. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® © 2022 The LEGO Group

LEGO, SERIOUS PLAY, the Minifigure and the Brick and Knob configurations are trademarks of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorise or endorse this website. Liminal Play respects and aligns with the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® trademark guidelines.