Therapists, Counselors and Psychologists know that effective interactions with children and adolescents can only occur when they are relaxed and comfortable. That’s difficult to achieve until you have built a relationship with them. They are likely nervous, embarrassed, shy or afraid of the consequences of talking about problems. In some cases they may not have the vocabulary to explain, or are unable to trust strange adults, or feel they are being punished for bad behavior.
Kids love games, partly because games are an evolutionary mechanism that facilitates learning and growth and so we are hardwired to want to play. Monica Carpendale, an Art Therapist and founder of the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute (KATI – https://info.kutenaiarttherapy.com), designed the Auxilium Horizons games during sessions with her clients in the 1980s and 1990s to facilitate communication through Art and Play.
Our games address the following issues:
Morals and Values
Anger management and
Having games as an ice-breaker in your sessions is an aid to efficient and effective therapy; we’ve improved on the rigid nature of the printed board game to allow the games to be customizable; where the professional can edit the emotions and feelings used in the game so as to ‘stack the deck’ in favor of the particular issues that are appropriate for each clients age and presentations.
We call the Suite of games ‘Tools’, because they can help you structure (or perhaps un-structure!) your counselling and therapy sessions very specifically to the needs of the child or adolescent. The tools are designed with therapy and customization in mind, rather than simple enjoyment; they truly are therapeutic tools.
In this respect our games are also a great aid for teaching the subjects of Therapy and Counselling. The direct nature of the game communication attribute means it’s easy to see how the process of therapy and counselling ‘plays out’ along with the game; it’s a small, very natural abstraction.
What do the Tools Offer?
The tools are useful in teaching creative thinking and creative approaches to healthy social interaction.
Social and Communication Skills
The tools are very useful for developing language skills, creative expression, emotional vocabulary and moral concepts.
Personal and social awareness are brought into focus and self-esteem is enhanced in an atmosphere of fun and safety.
The tools provide an opportunity to share emotions, ideas and stories in a safe playful atmosphere. They provide an excellent starting place for discussions.
The games are very effective both for reducing anxiety, “ice-breaking,” and developing rapport and trust in sharing feelings and experiences. The familiarity of playing a game functions positively in building a therapeutic relationship.
Teaching by Modelling
The tools provide the opportunity for the therapist, counsellor or parent to model listening skills and appropriate expression of feelings and ideas. They also give the opportunity to model respect and acceptance of another person's point of view.
All feelings and experiences are to be accepted as expressed. There are no “wrong” answers. It is more important to encourage a child to speak and offer their experiences and feelings than to worry or correct their use of language - a child may interpret or use a feeling word in a way that makes one wonder if they understand the word correctly.
Accept their response and when you have an opportunity offer an example for yourself that illustrates the feeling. In fact, correcting their use of the word may easily lead to the child not wanting to play anymore. Sometimes what may seem like an inappropriate application of a feeling word may provide some insight into the feelings experienced in the situation being spoken about.