11 Awesome Therapy Games for Kids, Adults, Teens, Groups and Telehealth

Updated: 2 days ago

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 may seem like an easy way to fill up a session, but they're much more than that.


Games help make therapy less intimidating, more enjoyable, and even more effective. Studies show that people, including adults, learn better through play (Yenigen, 2014).


(Ready to play now? Check out this 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

  • Hospital settings

  • Community group therapy

  • Problem solving groups

  • Anger management groups

  • Classes and student groups

  • Individual therapy sessions

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. They're based on evidence-based therapies and focus on developing and practicing skills.

Games for therapy can focus on specific strategies, like DBT skills, or be used to build trust and rapport with clients.

Article Highlights

CBT Island Quest Board Game

CBT Lingo (Bingo) Printable Game

The Greatest DBT Board Game

FEELOPOLY Emotions Game

Couple's Pursuit

Feelings Jenga

Therapy Game Bundle

Feelings Pictionary/Charades

Cube or Dice Prompts

Therapy Jenga

Breathing Sphere

CBT Triangle App

Stop, Relax, & Think

DIY Games and Worksheets


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 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.


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.


DBT Board Game

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

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.


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.


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.

You can check out FEELOPOLY and download it here.


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 game here.


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.


Feelings Pictionary/Charades

Great for: Kids, teens, families, adventurous adults

Works with: Groups, in-person, and telehealth

Goals: Building rapport, psychoeducation, expressing emotions

Pictionary Man can be adapted to be a therapy game for adults, families, teens, kids and groups.

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

  • Act out a coping skill

  • 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.


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.


Breathing Sphere

Great for: Kids, teens, college students, some adults

Works with: Individuals, groups

Goals: Practicing mindfulness and breathing skills

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.


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.


TF-CBT Triangle App

Great for: Kids

Works with: Individual therapy, telehealth, homework

Goals: Learning or reviewing CBT concepts, CBT triangle


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.

Stop, Relax & Think Game

Great for: Kids, groups

Works with: Groups, in-person

Goals: Practicing emotional regulation


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.


Other Ideas

Therapy games don't have to be limited to those you see online. You and your clients can design your own as well! Here are some ideas to consider.


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 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.


Everyday Games

Nearly any tabletop game or card game on hand can help teach skills. Simply add a prompt to a function or play of the game. For example, if you're playing Monopoly you may have to respond to a prompt in order to buy a property. Or, you can replace the "Chance" cards with skill prompt cards.


You can 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.


This flexibility 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.

Nearly any tabletop game can become a therapy game by adding skill or discussion prompts.

Play Around!

Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and activities. 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.


When I worked with kids and teens, I often used games as a way to make therapy less intimidating. We might play cards or Connect-4 while I ask them about how they’re getting along with friends.


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.

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

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


Sources


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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077559516681866


Yenigen, S. Play Doesn’t End in Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess too. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesnt-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too