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Friday, October 31, 2014

My Favorite Anger Management Techniques from Pinterest

Pinterest is full of counseling ideas!  The only problem is that you have to wade through tons of ideas to find the brilliant ideas that really work.  These are my favorite Pinterest links, which I think you will like, too!
Free Printable Book and poster to go with our "Don't Be An Angry Bird" anger management lesson
First, there is the free “Don’t Be an Angry Bird” book.  This is my go-to tool when I first begin working with kids who have temper problems.  I love that it gives them lots of coping skills to immediately start using.  It is also cute and holds their attention.  I have had so many kids come in and ask for another book because they lost the first one.  This tells me they are using it!
Escape from Anger Volcano Counseling Game
Another favorite is “Escape from Anger Volcano”.  I paid $7 to download it from Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you don’t have an account with them, get one now!  There are so many good resources. This is a great game and the kids I work with LOVE it!  The down side is that it takes quite a bit of ink to print and some work to laminate the board and all the cards.  It is worth it, though.
No-Temper  Treasure Island Game
Similar to Escape from Anger Volcano is No Temper Treasure Island.  It was made by Marco Products.  I paid around $15 plus shipping for it.  The picture above is poor quality, but the game board actually looks pretty decent.  Every time a player lands on a jewel space on the board they get a card.  Who ever collects the most jewels by the end of the game wins.  It teaches coping skills, empathy, locus of control…  This one also has been a hit and often requested.

Get your angries out
I also really like  There are some interactive videos on there that help kids get a better understanding of anger and how to cope with it.  There are lots of articles and resources on the website as well.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Trail of Fears

There's no better time than October to address fears and anxiety with children.  They are surrounded by monsters, ghosts, and triggers to fears.  For some children this is a fun and enjoyable time of year.  For others, it is full of fear and anxiety.  Children often struggle to separate fantasy from reality and anticipate the villains from movies to appear in their rooms at night.

This game incorporates CBT to help children challenge irrational thoughts and to learn coping skills to overcome anxiety.  I always love to play games in sessions, as children will answer questions asked by a game that they would hesitate to answer if I asked it directly.  And it is fun!

You can find it at my website, or my Teachers Pay Teachers store:
You can also find our games on Amazon and Ebay

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Feelings Graph

Don't you love simple, yet very insightful interventions when working with kids?  The feelings graph is a go-to tool for me.  I frequently use feelings charts during session, and they are certainly useful.  However, the Feelings Graph goes much deeper.  Instead of asking kids "What are you feeling today?"  I'd rather ask "How much are you feeling of these emotions today?"

This simple intervention is helpful in a lot of ways:

  1. It allows children to show how much of each feeling they are experiencing.
  2. It helps children take time to really pay attention to what is really going on inside.
  3. It is a great assessment tool.  It can help you as a clinician to identify what feelings are taking precedence and identify what to focus on first.
  4. It can show progress.  If I have a client fill out a feelings chart during one of our first sessions, I can pull it out again a couple of months later to help the client identify how their feelings have changed over time.  It can be a motivator.
  5. It allows even very young children to express their emotions without relying on verbal language skills.
  6. It helps children make sense of why they feel the way they do.
  7. It can help initiate important dialogue about what has been going on.  The client may be willing to color in the boxes, but is hesitant to initiate conversation about something that is troubling them.
Feel free to make your own feelings graph, or if you would like to save time you can head over to my website at for the download.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to "POP" negative thoughts.

It's October and the weather has been beautiful!  One nice days I find myself looking for reasons to take kids outside to enjoy the day and break out of the monotony of everyday life.  This week I brought a bubble blower and told my clients to imagine that the bubbles were negative thoughts.  They had a great time "popping" negative thoughts and ridding themselves from upsetting feelings.

After a few minutes of popping bubbles, we sat down and made some cards with various thoughts.  We wrote things like:

  • "I can't do anything right." 
  • "I don't have any friends."
  • "I am great at math." 
  • "I'm going to fail my spelling test."
  • "I am able to do great things if I try."

I encouraged the children to come up with new ideas to put on the cards.  Some children really struggled with this and others were writing down ideas faster that I could!  For those who struggled, I took some extra time to help them grasp the concepts.

I made one index card that said "Keep" and one that said "Pop."  I had the kids sort through the stack of cards into the two piles.  Once they were sorted, we worked on changing the "pop" stack into healthy self-talk.   They were able to identify that the best way to get rid of negative thoughts is to fill their minds with positive thoughts.  I also had the kids process how they would feel thinking the various thoughts and how the positive thoughts change their mood.

I love activities like this because children will forget the things I tell them, but when they see bubbles, they will remember to pop negative thoughts!  I want to them to always have triggers to carry with them to help them to remember to use the coping skills they have learned in counseling.  I hope this intervention works in your practice as well!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Feelings Candy Land

I love to play Feelings Candy Land with my clients!  We all have a good time and it provides a great platform for processing feelings, teaching kids how to use words to express emotion, and to identify problem areas that need to be addressed in future sessions.

I use Feelings Candy Land for several different reasons:
1. To help children identify feelings words and how to attach them to experiences.
2. To help children process feelings in a non-threatening format.
3. To establish rapport.  I think that it helps children normalize feelings when they realize that their therapist has feelings, too.
I created this simple PDF download as a simple guide to demonstrate how to use Candy Land in therapy sessions.  Here's the link to the free download:
Be sure to type "CANDY" in the discount code field.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Cognitive Distortions

I am super excited to introduce you to this game.  I created it about 6 months ago and have been playing it with clients since then.  I originally created it for my own use, but figured since I put in the work, I might as well share it with others. The reason I created this game is because there are very few CBT games available.  Those that are available come with a hefty price tag!  My goal is to help clinicians get resources without breaking the bank.  Take a look and let me know what you think!  I value your input.

This game highlights seven different cognitive distortions: global labels, blaming, mind-reading, magnifying, filtering, controlling, and catastrophizing.  There are 2 sheets of game cards (24 cards) for each of the 7 cognitive distortions.  3 cards are purposely left blank so that you have the opportunity to customize the game with some of your own questions.

Cut lines are printed on the cards.  It is recommended that you laminate the game cards and game board before using them so that they will be more durable.

The game comes with 6 pawns and 1 die.  It also includes instructions.  To play, you begin at the center of the board and follow the trail to the top left corner of the board.  Each symbol on the board represents a cognitive distortion and will have cards with a matching symbol.  The player draws a card with the corresponding symbol to the space they land on.   The first player to reach the end wins.

Please keep in mind that this is a process oriented game.  There may be questions that trigger an emotional response from your client.  Please feel free to take your time and allow children to ask questions and discuss times that they experienced these cognitive distortions.  The goal is for them to learn and to correct negative thinking.

Are you interested in purchasing the game?  No printing required...just purchase it online and I will ship it to you. Visit my store at for either a digital download or a hard copy.
It is also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Please keep checking back.  I have more games in the works.  I have 1 for elementary aged children that is also cognitive behavioral, but in simpler terms. I also have one that I use for children that have been adopted or are in foster care.  It addresses abandonment issues.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Intro to Counseling Workbook
I enjoy having hands-on, interactive activities for my elementary-aged clients.  I think that it is important to discuss issues such as confidentiality during the first session, but let's be honest.  It's dull. The concepts can be confusing for young children.

I have also found that children come come into the first therapy session with many anxieties and questions.  They may not know what counseling is, much less why they are there.  If they do not understand the benefits of counseling, they can be resistant to participate.  I included in this little workbook a short description of many aspects of counseling to allow children to understand what to expect.

The workbook certainly does not cover all aspects of counseling.  It is designed to be used as a guide to lead the therapist through introductory information in a format that can help hold the attention of children.  It prints on 2 pages, front and back and becomes as 16 page booklet (when cut and folded).

Interested?  It is available at my website, or head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download it.  Enjoy!

Affirmation Cards

I have found that children are quick to learn positive thinking skills, but are also quick to forget them!  Affirmation cards can help children remember to put positive thinking skills into practice.  I encourage clients to put them in places that they will see throughout the day to trigger positive thinking.

Step 1:  Discuss with the child how positive thoughts lead to positive feelings and negative thoughts lead to negative feelings.

Step 2: Role play various scenarios of using fearful thoughts, angry thoughts, sad thoughts, happy thoughts and help your client identify how they would feel in those situations.  

Step 3: Help your client identify thoughts that trouble them, such as: "I'm ugly," "I'm stupid," "No one likes me."  Explain how to challenge negative thinking with positive thinking, such as "I don't like my chin, but my eyes are beautiful," "I struggle with math, but I'm great at reading," and "Johnny is mean to me, but I still have lots of friends."  

Step 4: Make affirmation cards to reinforce positive statements.

Step 5: Place cards where they will be seen throughout the day.

Please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers page for the FREE! download: