Playing Card Games To Learn Coping Skills

Kids love playing games.  Cards games are always a hit, and playing cards with students when in a counseling session can be really helpful.  First it gives kids a focus other than you looking at them.  They are concentrating instead on the cards and the game, and not where your eyes are.  Eye contact can be uncomfortable for kids, so any game can help break the ice.  Second, a deck of cards can really start the conversation going.  

I started using cards as a coping skills when kids came to my office in tears or a panic attack.  I used them as a distraction for what they were experiencing, and as we played, I would ask them questions about the events that led them to come down to my office.  The more I played, the more I tried to use the cards as a therapy tool.  Then I began adding questions to each card, asking students to answer the question on the cards as we played.  Then, I began making my own cards.  

Cards can be used with individuals and with groups.  When you add cards to groups, you also help students build social skills and practice patience and self-regulation.  I use these cards in my social skills groups and my resilience groups.  They are a perfect review after students talk about their stress triggers and learn various coping mechanisms.  Talking together and answering the questions really reinforces the learning concept and students are quick to offer suggestions to one another if someone doesn’t have an answer.  Cards also help to build alliances between students in group.  As students discuss themselves, they become empathetic towards each other, but also realize that they are not alone with their fears and feelings.  

Answering questions like, “Name one coping skill you have used successfully,” or “why is yelling at someone an unhealthy way of handling stress?” reinforce skills.  Be sure to add a variety of questions into your card games.  Techniques, what would you do if, true/false, and how would you feel if questions add a good variety.  

To see or purchase my Coping Skill Card Game, click here.  

Do you have a favorite technique for helping students learn coping skills, or do you have a great way to use playing cards in counseling?  Let me know.  Leave a comment below!

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