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35 Fun & Effective Therapy Games for Kids, Teens, & Adults

Updated: Sep 27

Therapeutic games can help build rapport and teach important concepts like coping skills.

Therapy games can help with learning emotions, coping skills, CBT, DBT, and more.

Therapy games make therapy less intimidating, more enjoyable, and even more effective. Studies show that kids and adults learn better through play (Yenigen, 2014).

(Ready to play now? Check out this printable therapy game bundle.)

Play is often encouraged as a way to treat symptoms in therapies like trauma-focused CBT (Allen et al., 2017). It can be used for many purposes, modalities, and settings. Here are some examples:

  • Teaching CBT

  • DBT skills groups

  • Play therapy

  • Hospital settings

  • Community group therapy

  • Problem solving groups

  • Anger management groups

  • Classes and student groups

  • Individual therapy sessions

As a community therapist, I found games made sessions with new teens less awkward, helped get groups more involved, and were a life-saver when I had minimal prep time.

This infographic includes three therapy games that cover CBT techniques and DBT skills.

Games (like this one for practicing CBT) are also great for getting to know your clients, and for teaching important concepts like coping skills and understanding emotions. They can work with kids, teens, families, groups, and adults–in person and during telehealth.

Some of the most fun and easiest games to play with clients are therapeutic board games. Many include discussion or learning prompts, and cover topics like feelings, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

Since the games are usually structured and straightforward, they may be less intimidating than regular talk sessions. You can use these tools as a way to

teach concepts, to review skills, or just to have fun and get to know each other.

Below are some fun and effective games that may leave a lasting memory for you and your clients. Several options are printable PDF downloads. All are evidence-based and focus on developing and practicing skills.

Article Highlights

Printable PDF Games:

CBT Island Quest Board Game

CBT Lingo (Bingo)

The Greatest DBT Board Game

FEELOPOLY Emotions Game

Couple's Pursuit

Therapy Shuffle

Feelings Jenga

Feelings Pictionary

Feel, Act, & Draw

Therapy Dice

Emotions Match

Happy Dragon

Go Feel!

Color-Based Games

Family Board Games

1. CBT Island Quest

Great for: Kids (11+), teens, college students, families, some adults

Works with: Groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Learning or reviewing CBT concepts, practicing coping skills, building confidence

CBT Island Quest is a straightforward printable therapy game of discussion and prompts. Players roll or use the card instructions to move around the game.

Prompt cards are divided into mindfulness/relaxation questions and cognitive questions. Example prompts include:

  • You think your friend is mad at you because they cancelled your plans together. Challenge the thought.

  • What's a coping skill you can used when you're depressed?

  • What does it feel like in your body when you're relaxed?

Learn more about CBT Island Quest and download it here.

2. CBT Lingo (CBT Bingo)

Great for: Kids (11+), teens, college students, families, adults (adaptable for skill level/age)

Works with: Groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Learning or reviewing CBT concepts, psychoeducation, practicing coping skills, test review

This CBT Bingo game, or CBT Lingo, is a therapy game with prompts focused on cognitive behavioral therapy.

This printable game is focused on teaching CBT theory and coping skills. It includes rule variations based on your goals, the group’s experience level, and age group. It’s based on, and playable, with a real Bingo set.

Rather than just a novelty game like many therapy bingo pages, it actually includes 10 unique playing cards and 75 prompts relating to CBT. It’s great for groups, telehealth, and individual clients in-person or online.

Some of the prompts include:

  • What is an automatic thought?

  • Draw a feelings thermometer

  • Name a common cognitive distortion

  • What are the three parts of the CBT triangle?

Download the CBT Lingo game here.

3. DBT Board Game

Great for: Teens, young adults, college students, anyone familiar with DBT skills

Works with: Groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Learning or reviewing DBT concepts, practicing the four areas of DBT skills

The Greatest DBT Board Game uses a fun carnival theme to make reviewing DBT fun and entertaining. It covers the four areas of DBT skills, including mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation.

Files are printable and come as PDFs.

Example prompts include:

  • Give an example of using opposite action to change an emotion

  • Think of a time you've used radical acceptance. Did it help you? Why or why not?

  • Describe a rude way to ask for help, versus a more effective way.

The game throws in fun elements, such as the "Emotional Roller Coaster," and the "Ferris Wheel of Distress."

Visit here to check it out and download it today.

4. FEELOPOLY Emotions Game

Great for: Kids, tweens, teens, some adults and young adults

Works with: Individual therapy, groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Naming emotions, expressing feelings, validating emotions

This emotions game, called FEELOPOLY, includes prompts and activities to practice naming and working with emotions.

FEELOPOLY is a creative and fun emotions game. Rather than working against each other like in a Monopoly game, FEELOPY has the team working together. The goal is to work as a taskforce to "validate" all of the feelings on the board.

It covers concepts of naming feelings, validating emotions, expressing emotions, and communicating experiences. Example prompts include:

  • Do you have an outlets for your feelings? What's one way you express them?

  • What might help if you're starting to feel frustrated?

  • Explain how a trigger might bring up a feeling. Give an example.

The game is a printable therapy game with PDFs. You can check out FEELOPOLY and download it here.

5. Couple's Pursuit

Great for: Adults, couples

Works for: Couples homework, possibly couples sessions

Goals: Building relationships, practicing communication, expressing affection

This infographic includes pieces from the Couples Pursuit relationship game focused on communication skills and relationship building.

Do you work with couples, or are you looking for a fun way to improve or build on your relationship? Couple's Pursuit is an activity-based relationship game that includes fun categories like drawing and guessing, along with discussion topics, prompts to express appreciation, and more.

It's inspired by Trivial Pursuit, however rather than trivia questions the categories cover important relationships skills. It includes categories that focus on skills used in popular therapies like the Gottman Method. Examples include:

  • Showing affection

  • Friendship and bonding

  • Shared goals

  • Fun and recreation

Download the printable game here.

6. Therapy Shuffle

Great for: Older Older kids, teens, adults, families, groups

Works with: Groups, in-person

Goals: Learning or practicing coping skills, problem-solving, teaching concepts, building rapport

This is an infographic with pictures from the coping-skills therapy card game called Therapy Shuffle.

Therapy Shuffle is a therapeutic card game inspired by Fluxx, although it's slower-moving and based on coping skills. The game is complex enough to keep many teens and adults engaged.

Players choose "goals" and collect "skills" to match the goal cards. Players have to answer coping-skills related prompts to be able to play their cards and win.

The game can be played competitively or cooperatively, depending on your group. If you like you can also scrap the prompts, and play the cards as is. Learn more and download the therapy card game here.

7. Feelings Jenga

Great for: Kids, teens, adults, families, groups

Works with: Groups, in-person

Goals: Learning or practicing coping skills, understanding emotions, teaching concepts, building rapport

Feelings Jenga is a great emotions game for teaching emotions skills to kids, teens, and families.

Jenga is a popular game among therapists–especially those who work with kids. It’s a particularly easy one to set up. You can write a prompt on each Jenga block, or add a color using markers or stickers.

You can also print out prompts on sticky paper and stick or tape them to the blocks.

Check out the pre-printed prompts from Jenga Feelings Game. They include feelings words along with prompts that encourage clients or groups to consider situations relating to emotions.

When someone successfully pulls a Jenga block out, they must also answer a question or follow a prompt to earn the point.

Sometimes the blocks are also color-coded. For example, a blue block might correspond to happy feelings. A player might then discuss a time recently that made them feel happy, or what it was like to feel that way. Or, blocks can be numbered and correspond to discussion prompts.

Some of the generic Jenga-style blocks actually come in various colors, making it easy to set up color-based categories for the game. This also works with other colorful games like pick-up sticks.

Here are some example prompts from the Feelings Jenga game stickers:

  • Imagine you go so angry that you felt like throwing something. Do you think it would help? Is it safe to do?

  • Describe what a feeling (ie sadness) feels like in your body.

  • What should you do if your feelings are overwhelming you.

Learn more about the prompts here.

8. Feelings Pictionary

Great for: Kids, teens, families, adventurous adults

Works with: Groups, in-person, and telehealth

Goals: Building rapport, psychoeducation, expressing emotions

I picked up this Pictionary Man game (see above) at a local thrift store, and it’s been well-loved by my clients ever since. (Can you guess what he’s feeling now?)

This version is similar to the original Pictionary, except you can draw on a 3D human, and you can add gestures and movement to the game, like in Charades.

Rather than using the prompts from the game, make up your own, such as:

  • Draw a feeling you’ve had today

  • What’s your favorite thing to do after school?

  • How did it feel in your body when those kids were rude to you?

  • What’s the best way for your parents to help you when you’re upset?

  • How does your body feel when you’re having a panic attack?

It’s not necessary to keep score—just see how well you can guess the other person’s depiction. Then discuss it as much as you’d like.

If you’re providing sessions via telehealth/video, you can play the game with pen and paper, or with the platform’s whiteboard if you’re tech-savvy.

9. Feel, Act, & Draw

Great for: Teens, young adults, college students, families

Works with: Groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Discussing feelings, interaction, ice-breaker

Here's a more organized printable version of a charades and drawing therapy game.

Players round a game board while they either answer discussion prompts or draw or act out feelings scenarios. For example, if a player lands on a charades space, they might act out the feeling "sad" or the scenario "mad at my friend."

If they land on a drawing space they sketch it out, Pictionary style. And if they land on a discussion space they talk through the questions in a more traditional style. Download and print it here.

10. Cube or Dice Prompts

Great for: Kids, teens, adults, families, groups

Works with: Groups, in-person, telehealth

Goals: Learning or practicing coping skills, responding to prompts, building rapport

This infographic includes printable therapy dice, a great game for emotions or to teach coping skills.

You can play this game with dry erase blocks, real dice, or any empty square box. Or, print these paper dice with prompts and tape them together.

Assign your own prompts to each side of the cube, or assign a corresponding question to each number on the dice. You can even use a dice app on your phone if you prefer, especially for telehealth.

This game is highly customizable, but here’s an example:

Let’s say you want to review DBT skills. Each side of the box would include a prompt such as “Name a skill to try when you feel angry.”

Someone throws the block across the ground, and then must respond to the prompt that lands face-up in order to get a point.

If you’re using real dice, then each number would represent a corresponding prompt you have written down. So if someone rolls a “2” they would answer the question you have prepared for #2.

This is great for clients who need to move around a lot, or for a group that’s getting bored. You can also use the paper dice as an activity, or send it as homework or an assignment for telehealth. Check out the pre-printed blocks here.

11. Emotions Match

Great for: Kids

Works with: Individuals, groups

Goals: Identifying and naming emotions

Emotions Match, inspired by the traditional Match Game, helps kids match up expressions and body language with the names of feelings. For example, one card has an image of a character who looks happy. The matching card has the word "Happy" on it.

Check out this printable match game which comes in a set with several variations. If you like, you can use just the emotions, or use two copies of the traditional feelings cards.

Download and print the feelings cards here.

12. Happy Dragon

Great for: Kids

Works with: Groups, classes

Goals: Identifying and naming emotions

The Happy Dragon emotions game is inspired by the unfortunately-named "Old Maid" game. However, players are trying to end up with the Happy Dragon to win, versus lose (as in the other game). The game uses feeling-words cards, so players are exposed to emotions vocabulary. You can also add emotion prompts to encourage discussions about feelings.

Visit here to learn more about the Happy Dragon.

13. Go Feel!

Great for: Kids, families

Works with: Individuals, groups, family therapy

Goals: Identifying and naming emotions, discussing feelings

Go Feel is based on the beloved game Go Fish, so the mechanics are easy to catch on to. Players aim to collect and match emotion cards. This helps provide them with exposure to feelings words and images. Discussion prompts can also be added to deepen the game.

To play Go Feel you need multiple matching emotion cards. Check out this download to get started.

This infographic shows kids emotions cards, with cute unicorn and dragon artwork. The cards also include multiple game variations, such as Go Feel! and Emotions Match.

Family Board Games

14. Breathing Sphere

If you often teach breathing skills, this toy for kids is a great way to demonstrate it. Kids usually open the sphere as they breathe in, and close it up as they breathe out. It can also be a helpful visual way to demonstrate how slow to breathe.

If appropriate, you can have a group pass around the sphere, and then practice skills together as each person opens and closes the device.

Slow breathing skills can help with anxiety with kids and teens, and for adults as well for that matter. You can find the sphere on Amazon.

15. Stop, Relax & Think Game

You can purchase Stop, Relax and Think on Amazon. It's a popular game often used in therapies like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) to help teach emotional regulation.

The game is appropriate for kids working on anger outbursts, but may be able to help with other impulsive behaviors as well. It covers multiple coping skills, including of course the "stop, relax, and think" steps. Find it on Amazon.

16. The Talking, Feeling, & Doing Game

The Talking, Feeling, & Doing game has been around for years. It was created to help break down barriers in therapy, so children can feel more comfortable to open. Prompts vary from more basic questions to deeper ones about life history. You can get the game here on Amazon.

17. The Skittles Game

Candy sure makes it easier to talk about feelings! This game uses candy of various colors, like Skittles or M&Ms, to prompt discussion. You can use any number of prompts and activities. For example, you can divide the colors by feelings, coping skills, or mindfulness activities.

When a child chooses a color, they must answer the prompt. Then they get to eat the candy! You can imagine why this game would be popular.

18. Therapy Uno

Did you think I would skip Uno? (Actually I did and added it later.) Uno is played similarly to the Skittles game. When a player changes the color being played, they describe a type of feeling, or answer an assigned prompt.

You can play many games that involve color this way as well, such as pick-up-sticks, or color-coded therapy Jenga.

19. DIY Therapy Cards

Using a set of blank cards, or standard playing cards, add your own prompts or activities to the cards. For example, each “set” earned in traditional Go-Fish would require the player (or all players) to name a feeling word.

You can combine the prompts with a traditional game, or simply take turns drawing a card and following the prompt.

If your client is up for it, they could also create their own cards for therapy. They might list feeling words or coping skills, and act them out each time the card comes up. This version may work better for telehealth–your client can be in charge of the cards on their end.

In family therapy, you might play where each person who wins a game or scores a point gets to ask a question of another player that wouldn’t normally be well received.

For example, a parent might ask a teen why they always shut their bedroom door when they get home, or a child might ask why they never get to stay up late on weekends. The other player can earn their own point if they answer, or they can pass.

Your clients can help make up the rules of the game, as long as it involves responding to prompts at least part of the time.

20. Taboo

Family board games can be therapeutic all on their own. Or, you can add prompts to add more depth. For example, replace Taboo cards with your own feelings or skill-based prompts. Perhaps you have to describe the feeling of anger only using physical sensations, while the other person guesses the emotion.

21. Connect-4

You may not imagine it, but when I worked with kids Connect-4 was probably the most valuable game in my office. We didn't add therapy to it at all. But the easy physical actions of the game (and simple rules) made it easy to chat while we played.

I learned all kinds of things about a child or teen's day, family, and relationships. Just keep it near your desk or in sight, and ask your client if they'd like to play. I don't think I was ever turned down.

22. Candyland

For younger kids, Candyland can be a great teaching game. You can simply play the game as is to build rapport. Or, you could talk about feelings depending on where the child lands. Having to return to the beginning is a perfect chance to talk about feelings.

23. Trivial Pursuit

The traditional Trivial Pursuit can be conveniently adapted to therapy. Simply replace the categories and make them about concepts you're learning, such as CBT skills. Or, make each space a prompt, such as discussing a feeling.

24. Ungame

Ungame is a popular card game used in therapy. It has board game and card game versions. You can choose card prompts that are appropriate for your client. There are different levels depending on the type of topics you want to discuss. You can get the game here on Amazon.

25. Relationship Skills Card Game

This versatile game focuses on issues like social skills, conflict, and empathy building. It includes conversational prompts, icebreakers, and more. It's great for adult groups or even work settings. Check out the Relationship Skills Card Gamecards on Amazon.

26. Mindfulness Game

The Mindfulness Game is a detailed card deck with multiple activities for individuals and groups to follow. It's designed by teachers with specific activities and clear instructions. It's one of the older and most popular prompt decks. Check it out here.

27. Minecraft

Do you even know a kid who doesn't like Minecraft, even if they don't get to play it? Older kids and teens often find this game captivating. The good thing is that parents can play the game with kids, providing a modern bonding activity. During session, kids can show you what they've built and discuss what they like about the game. If you have trouble getting a tween to talk, it might be the ticket in.

28. TF-CBT Triangle App

The good folks who developed and teach TF-CBT therapy partnered to offer a fun app that helps teach basic CBT skills. While it's created as a part of the trauma therapy, it doesn't get into any trauma prompts or exposure techniques. It may be appropriate to teach the CBT triangle to younger kids. You can learn more here.

29. Creative VR Games

If you've never been inside a VR world, I encourage you to try it at least once. There are some pretty cool creative games, such as Tilt Brush by Google. If a client wanted a world where there was endless creativity and literally no physical limits, this would be it. It may be a very helpful art therapy or creative expression tool in the future.

30. Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are a great way to learn to work together in tight spots, so to speak. You don’t have to go to a literal escape room – there are kits online where you can set up your own scene and mystery. You can use them with kids, teens, adults, and even for workplace team building.

31. Scattergories

You might vaguely remember Scattegories from your childhood – it’s that game where you get a list of prompts and you try to come up with unique words that start with the same letter. You can create the same game but use therapy prompts, such as coping skills that start with T, or self-care techniques that begin with S.

32. Family Feud

You can create your own Family Feud game using therapeutic categories as well. Your rounds can be based on various topics, such as DBT techniques or coping skills. For adult groups, try wellness activities or fun ways to exercise.

33. Pong

When you hear Pong, you might think of the early video game, or beer pong from college. If you take out the alcohol, kids can pay too. We used to set up cups to represent thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, to help kids and teens learn CBT techniques.

34. Sports

If your client or group loves sports, try incorporating it in therapy. For example, you and your client could play HORSE with a basketball while you discuss the week. Even nerf games in your office can be a great icebreaker.

35. Roleplaying Games

Games like Dungeons and Dragons, and various other role playing games you can find online, provide a safe outlet for expression. Create your own scenario, or let your client take the lead if they’re familiar with the idea.

Play Around!

There really is no limit to using games in therapy. The flexibility of games can work great with telehealth. Ask the client what games they have at home.

Then they can run the game from their side, and you can provide the prompts. You may not even need a copy of the game to play from your side, depending on how complex it is.

Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and activities, whether you're in person or connecting via Zoom therapy. At the very least, any game used in therapy can help promote rapport with clients. They can also be a great way for groups and family members to bond.

Games might not seem like serious business, but with many clients they’re likely to get you further than traditional sitting and talking therapy sessions.

Want some easy games and activities to download use with your clients? Check out this great therapy game kit to get started, or fill your toolbox to the bring with our Entire Store Bundle.

This infographic shows multiple therapy games covering CBT, anxiety, trauma, DBT, couples therapy, emotions, and  much more.

-Jennie Lannette, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed therapist specializing in anxiety and PTSD. She has experience running therapy groups in schools, hospitals, and community settings.

-Games listed from Amazon include a small affiliate income if you make a purchase through this site.


Allen, B., & Hoskowitz, N. A. (2017). Structured Trauma-Focused CBT and Unstructured Play/Experiential Techniques in the Treatment of Sexually Abused Children: A Field Study With Practicing Clinicians. Child maltreatment, 22(2), 112–120.

Yenigen, S. Play Doesn’t End in Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess too. NPR.

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