What are some of the benefits of using games with children and adolescents?

  • Games help guide the assessment of the nature and extent of a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.
  • Games help to establish rapport and engage kids interactively.
  • Therapeutic games help children increase the benefits of psychotherapy in a shorter time frame.
  • Games help kids build confidence and develop new perspectives on interpersonal relationships.
  • Games promote enjoyment, flexibility and creativity.

Suggested Games for Children

These are games that can be used either at home or in a therapeutic environment.

  • Therapeutic Candy Land
    see Liana Lowenstein, Creative Interventions with Children and Youth
  • Ungame
    always a good choice because the game has no beginning or end, has open-ended questions or comments, and no "right" or "wrong" answers
  • Uno, Phase 10, Sorry, Pick-Up Sticks, etc.
    anything that can be used to color code emotions (Red=Mad; Yellow=Happy; Blue=Sad; Green=Worried or Scared
  • Memory games
    make a memory game by copying "emotion" faces [two of each emotion] and laminating the cards; every time a player makes a match the player tells about a time they felt that emotion
  • Mancala
    this is soothing simply because the stones or marbles are natural elements and are typically calming to the touch; let the child make up their own rules about the game
  • Apples to Apples
    a good game for building mastery over language and, therefore, communication
  • Bingo
    can be adapted to teach skills about most social interactions; use a free computer site to create new cards
  • Chutes and Ladders
    brings pleasure to kids of all ages simply because of its unpredictability and innate fun of sliding down chutes and climbing up ladders; let children be creative about their movement on this board - some kids like to "fall" down ladders and clamber up slides
  • Dice with a shaker cup
    this type of game offers its own auditory component - making noise, which is good for kids
  • Jenga
    write emotion words on the individual blocks - each player describes that emotion and a time they felt that emotion when they pull that block from the game
  • Marbles
    marbles help children with fine motor coordination; and marbles help with creativity as kids make up games to play with various colors and sizes of marbles
  • Pick-Up Sticks
    another way to use colors to connect to specific emotions and processing them out loud
  • Pictionary and Pictionary Jr.
    this is a good way to encourage kids to draw about their life experiences