Games for Family-Based Therapy

by Josienita Borlongan
Everybody wins during a family therapy game session.

Everybody wins during a family therapy game session.

Tragedies, financial problems, infidelity and many other reasons can trigger bigger problems that may escalate and weaken a family's foundation, no matter how strong it is. The outcome can have a ripple effect on every member of the family. Before it's too late, going through therapy sessions can help in the healing process. To break the ice, therapists often insert games for families to play during their sessions. Often, these games help families improve their relationships with one another.

The Family Living Game

The Family Living Game, created by Dr. Berthold Berg, for ages 8 and up, aims to improve relationships between parents and children. Improving parent-child communication, identifying positive and negative methods of connecting emotionally and developing respect for one another are some goals of this game.

The game consists of two sets of game cards--parents' and children's game cards. In the parents' game cards, parents will learn reflective listening, methods on how they can help their children explore other ways to solve problems and proper ways to praise and punish their children. The children's game cards will help children learn assertiveness, how to accept their parents' imperfect behaviors and how to appreciate and respond to the positive behavior of their parents. Both parents and children will answer the communication game cards in unison, which encourages both parties to interact and practice effective negotiation.

The counselor or therapist mediates the game, offers suggestions and elaborates on important topics. When parents and children play together, the session becomes successful and fruitful.

Life Stories

A game for ages 6 and up, Life Stories is a fun game that allows players to tell stories and share a wonderful time together. This game encourages players to communicate, express themselves, solve problems, be creative and work as a team. Life Stories will make your family recall certain events in their lives and share them with one another. Therapists use this game to bring families closer to each other.

In Life Stories, players use a game board, which they travel on by answering questions from a set of different card decks. Choices of questions come from Memory Cards (questions about people and events from the past), Etchings Cards (questions about outside influences) and Valuables Cards (questions about hopes and dreams). Two to eight players can play Life Stories.

The Feelings Wheel Game

The Feelings Wheel Game uses 64 words to describe feelings. Up to eight players can participate. This game helps facilitate individual and group decision-making. It also helps develop your child's emotional intelligence and empathy. The game also aims to help express positive and negative feelings, as well as, aid in anger management.

The set includes two board games, each with 32 feeling words and drawings of facial expressions. One set is for children, and the other set is for parents. The therapist can help facilitate the game, and choose the playing variation depending on the therapeutic needs of the family.

Players take turns rolling the dice to advance their marker to a new feeling word by talking or acting (body and facial expressions) the feeling word. This game allows the players to talk about memorable situations that each feeling word reminds them.

About the Author

Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for Business.com, OnTarget.com and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.

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