• Whole Child Counseling

Fun, Games & Telehealth

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

In the early 2000’s I took one of my first courses on ethics and counseling and I wrote a paper about “e-counseling.” At the time I had a hard time finding research articles and the concept seemed almost outlandish. I remember imagining The Jetsons as I wrote the paper and struggled to find resources on e-counseling. Fast-forward to 2020 and I am actually doing “e-counseling” or tele-health. I never thought I would be doing this, but here I am!

I work from a relational perspective, and believe building and sustaining relationships is one of the primary mechanisms for healing and growth in therapy. I wasn’t sure if that could be accomplished or maintained via a screen, but I am happy to report that it is going a lot better than I anticipated. Trust me, it is not always perfect! Sometimes there are frozen screens or lag times but I am pleasantly surprised at how well this is working out.

I am an expressive arts therapist, so in “real life” sessions I use a lot of creative modalities, but a lot of this is limited on tele-health because my clients might not have access to the same art supplies at home. So, I wanted to share with you some of the resources and strategies I’ve used so far to help keep kids engaged in tele-health sessions.

I use a LOT of play therapy in my everyday practice. In fact, this is one of the modalities I use most often in my work with younger clients. When I work with children with special needs on social skills, we also play a lot of games. So I figured out this way to play board games online with clients via zoom! This could be accomplished with other video platforms that allow screen sharing and allow you to log on multiple users as well. Make sure you're using sites that adhere to the rules where you work and you are protecting PPI.

In October 2020, I made another post with LOTS more resources, so be sure to check it out here.

If you are looking for interactive activities and games to do on telehealth, check out my new program, Skills for Big Feelings, the Bonus Bundle comes with 12 FUN Digital Interactive Notebooks, trauma-informed guided relaxation MP3s and so much more which was made especially made for telehealth! There is now a growing game bundle option with both digital and printable games!

Plus, the growing game bundle comes with everything in the bonus bundle plus 40 coping skills craft projects and tons of printable and digital counseling games!

And one more video about this awesome program to help you save time and engage your children with online counseling games and fun social-emotional learning activities. If you have any questions, please read more here.

How I Play Board Games on Zoom

Supplies: board game, computer, cell phone, phone stand, headphones

Step 1: I log into Zoom on my laptop and put my laptop Zoom session on mute and turn my laptop sound down (this reduces the feedback.)

Step 2: I send myself an invite of the zoom link to my phone and also log into Zoom on my phone.

Step 3: I set up my phone on a stand like this. In the picture below I used a selfie-stick which is propped in a bucket of toy dinosaurs, but I have since upgraded to this stand.

Step 4: I point the phone towards my board game and turn up the sound on my phone (sometimes I plug in headphones into my phone.)

That’s it! It sounds more complicated than it is. I recommend giving it a try first with a friend or family member before you try it out with a client to work out any tech issues. So far, I have used Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Believe it or not these are both games that have so much therapeutic value! I am always surprised by how much the older kids love Candyland, because it’s not my favorite. However this game is continually picked by kids of all ages and so I need to remember to meet them where they are at!

Before playing any game, we always review the expectations for games to ensure everyone is a good sport. Some of our usual expectations don’t apply to telehealth – like only touch your own piece and hands away from the board unless it’s your turn!

I have the kids take turns discussing a prompt or role play scenario related to their treatment plan goals before each turn. I’ll create a future blog post about creating SMART treatment plan and IEP goals and how I progress monitor and collect data.

You can also turn just about any non-therapeutic games into a therapeutic game with a little bit of creativity! The book Therapy Games: Creative ways to turn popular games into activities that build self-esteem, teamwork, communication skills, anger management, self-discovery and coping skills by Alyssa Jones is a great resource for getting started on that.

In my office I also always keep a copy of The Responsive Counselor's Any Game Counseling Prompts for 26 Different Topics and Kylie the Creative Social Worker's Counseling Questions for Games handy, as these are resources that you can use as prompts to open up discussion about a variety of topics, while having fun playing a game!

There are also some really great therapeutic games you can also use. I have some great therapeutic card games but I haven't figured out how to use them in tele-health quite yet! Let me know if you have some creative ideas. In the mean time, here are some cool board games you can consider. These are more expensive but are worth the investment as you can use them for years.

Dr. Playwell's Think Positive Game

The Talking, Feeling and Doing Game

Pragmatic Social Skills Game (comes with 6 game boards and there is also a companion activity book to go with it.)

Q's Race to the Top

The Self Control Patrol Game

Playing CBT

Social Skills Group Activities

Thinkfun Yoga Spinner Game


Jeopardy Labs is a very cool website where you can make a free jeopardy online game and then you can use screen-share to play it live with others. In the past I have used this to introduce myself and my role to a whole classroom and I have also used this as a final group exercise as a way to collect data with my 10-week self-regulation group that is based on the fabulous book Hunter and His Amazing Remote Control. I haven't made my own tele-health Jeopardy games quite yet (I'll be sure to post them when I do!) but I have used some that others have made. You can search on the website but here are a few that you might find useful to get started:

Name That Feeling Jeopardy