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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Hulk-O-Meter

The other day I was in a session with a little boy who was very insightful.  We were talking about his anger and what he feels happening in his body while he gets angry.  He said he felt like the Hulk transforming from a calm person into a raging madman.  I can't take credit for it, but I thought the idea was too good not to share!

I created the Hulk-O-Meter to help kids pay attention to how their bodies change as they get angry. Well, I specifically made the Hulk-O-Meter for that particular little guy to remember body awareness and to use coping skills as needed.  It's no more than a deviation off of a normal anger meter, but way more fun!  I intend to use it as a conversation starter and visual with kids.  I will likely use an outline of a body to help identify what happens in their body as they get mad and to help them identify when they need to start using their coping skills so they don't "go Hulk."

You can download a free PDF HERE.  Just type in "hulk" as a discount code.
I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Game Review: Baking up a Friendship

Baking Up A Friendship: Girls' Role Playing Game for Keepi

I recently bought this game on Teachers Pay Teachers and I love it!  The creator took a lot of time to come up with creative ideas of how to help children learn communication and social skills.  I have played this game with several clients, and they are asking for it.

If you purchase this game, be prepared to use some ink.  There are TONS of cards and handouts that go along with the game.  To save some ink, I printed the cards on "portrait" instead of "landscape" mode and I laminated everything so that I can use dry erase markers rather than printing handouts for each time I use it.

What I love about this game is that there are so many different aspects to it that you can play it again and again and not go over the same cards repetitively.  I will also use aspects of this game in other counseling activities, such as the proper apology examples, the reflective listening script, and the script for honest communication.  I enjoy having visuals when I work with kids, as I think it helps them remember the concepts better.

Here's the link to the game:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Journey to My New Family

After searching the internet to find resources to use with children with abandonment issues, I finally decided to make a game to use with children who have been adopted or are in foster care.  This game focuses on attachment problems, feelings of abandonment, and helps them process feelings related to changes at home.  Children are able to identify feelings related to their role in the family and trust issues. 

There are two sets of cards to address family issues and feelings.  The questions are designed to provoke introspection and to process how changes continue to impact the child's feelings.  It is important to read through the cards before playing with clients, as some may be inappropriate for the child or situation. I would also encourage therapist who use this game to print a blank set of cards to write in questions that my be specific to the situation of the child you are working with. 

To purchase, visit our website:
You can also find our games on Amazon, Ebay, and Teachers Pay Teachers

Thought Crashers

I created this game about a year and a half ago and have been playing it with kids since then.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoy it!  The first counseling game I designed was Cognitive Distortions.  It works well with older elementary kids and middle school kids, but younger kids really didn't get it.  I created this game to appeal to younger kids.  (However, my middle school clients like it as well!)

I try in every way that I can to use CBT techniques with my clients, as I believe they are effective to lasting change and good outcomes.  Teaching kids to understand CBT principles can be very challenging!  This game was designed to help children identify self-talk, irrational thought patterns, and to help kids learn how to modify their thoughts. 

This game puts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skills in a play format.  Let's face it.  Children really do not typically sit still to talk about self talk and thought patterns! But they are willing to learn when it is presented through play.  

Check out the game on my website:
It is also available for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store:

You can also find our games on Amazon and Ebay.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to Build Trust in Your Marriage

Trust is the cornerstone upon which stable, lasting relationships are built.  Trust is a vital ingredient that allows vulnerability to arise.  When a person is vulnerable, they are able to expose obstacles to intimacy.  They are in a position to reveal insecurities, work through faulty thinking, and to resolve painful issues from the past.  The deeper the trust in a relationship, the more vulnerable the couple is able to be with one another. 

When conflict comes in a relationship, people are generally comfortable stating “I like this,” or “I don’t like that.”  However, it takes true vulnerability to state why the preferences are there.  Perhaps it is fear of rejection or abandonment. It could be triggers from past relationships gone wrong.  It could be attitudes learned from growing up in a dysfunctional home.  Exposing the hidden issues in the heart is a dangerous position to be in.  If trust has not been established, the pain could run deep if the spouse does not receive the information lovingly or even worse, if they use it as a weapon against their spouse.

If you recognize the intimacy in your relationship is lacking, it might be time to build the trust and become more vulnerable.  To build trust, you must be willing to take a risk.  Here are some tips to building intimacy in your relationship:

1.        Be real with yourself about what you want.  If you don’t know what you want, how will your spouse ever be able to figure it out?  Playing mind games by expecting him or her to always know what you are thinking and wanting will only lead to disappointment and frustration.  If you want something, go after it.  If it is something that you desire from your spouse, ask for it directly.  Stop the games.  Don’t set them up for failure. 

2.       Be receptive.  If you want your spouse to be open and honest with you, you have to be willing to receive it.  Don’t argue and get defensive.  You may have to take it on the chin and it may hurt, but it’s worth it in the long run.  We all have faults and ignoring them does not make them go away.  If you can’t take it, your spouse most likely won’t be willing to tell you.

3.       Admit it when you are wrong.  So we all screw up and hurt others.  When you realize you have been wrong in the way you treated your spouse, don’t sweep it under the rug.  The pain can linger.  The best thing you can do is become vulnerable and tell them that you were wrong and ask for forgiveness.  Be prepared to deal with the fallout and willing to move on past it.

4.       Validate your spouse’s feelings.  If your spouse feels that you do not understand or care about their feelings, they will shut down emotionally with you.  Even if you disagree with the situation, their feelings are real for them.  Listen, show compassion, and when the time is right you will have your turn.  They certainly will not show love and compassion to you if you don’t show it to them.

5.       Seek out your spouse.  Selfishness is destructive to relationships, but most of us have a heavy dose of selfishness that stands in the way of our relationships.  We want what we want, when we want it.  One of the best ways of developing trust with your spouse is to draw them out.  Ask what they want and do it!  If you ask what they want for dinner, don’t argue with their answer.  Put yourself aside for a while to please your spouse and you will be pleased with the outcome.  If it is unnatural in your relationship, it may take a while before the guard comes down.  However, if your spouse believes you are being genuine it can relight the flame of desire in your relationship.

Marriage is hard work.  There is no doubt about it.  But it is worth it.  When each day brings new levels of intimacy and trust, it is worth it.  When you realize that you can count on your spouse to care about your daily needs, it is worth it.  When you realize that you are building a lifetime of memories and experiences together, it is worth it.  When you are setting an example of commitment and responsibility for your children, it is worth it!