Marriage Counseling: Using Games to Reduce Tension


 Marriage Counseling: Using Games to Reduce Tension

What do you get when you combine a licensed psychotherapist and a game designer? You get marriage counseling that’s fun for both partners! Dr. Suzanne Seger, a marriage counselor from Berkeley, California, is now using games to help reduce tension in her practice. In this blog post I will explore how games are being used to help couples in therapy to cooperate better with each other and achieve more in their relationship.

Seger says that the object of the game is for players “to move through increasingly challenging levels together as they cooperate to solve problems and obstacles in their relationship." Players make choices about what they will do together, but only one player can win the game at a time. "As soon as one player wins, it's time for the other player to win. The more the couples cooperate, the more they learn about themselves and their relationship."

The game is based on Seger’s own marriage counseling. She created the game for her therapy patients because she wanted to use games as a way of educating them about communication skills in their relationship. She interviewed her clientele to find out what games they liked and which skills they valued in their relationships. After she had found those aspects of their lives, she identified which parts of each of the couples’ lives were most important and that would be addressed in therapy sessions. The game design process went as follows:

She then reviewed which skills were most valued so she could apply the techniques of those skills to the game. Then the following design process ensued:

Seger’s clientele has loved using this game to learn about communication and cooperation, and mention that it’s been a fun way for them to learn how to improve their relationships. “It's totally changed my relationship with my husband," says one client. Her husband agrees, saying, "The board games at home help a lot... It's really helped us communicate better."
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Marriage Counseling using games to reduce tension is a new approach to help reduce tension in therapy sessions. This method of therapy has proven effective for couples because the game teaches them how to cooperate with their partner effectively. The game is also fun, which contributes to a positive therapeutic experience and helps the couple maintain a positive mindset about their relationship.

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