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Teaching Kids about Internal and External Support Strategies

Parents going through a divorce can often have very different perspectives on what happened that led to their marriage’s dissolution. They can also have different perspectives regarding court proceedings regarding custody and visitation. Often these perspectives paint themselves as the victim and the other parent as the villain.


When kids hear these perspectives, they can often have a difficult time knowing what to believe. This is particularly when one parent is telling them one thing and the other is telling them the complete opposite. They might feel confused or even frustrated that they don’t know who to believe.


As therapists, we are often faced with the unenviable task of helping clients make sense of these situations for themselves. We may have thoughts about whose perspective is closer to the truth and whose is not, but it’s not our place to tell our clients what those suspicions are. Our goal is to help them figure that out for themselves and to decide what to do with that information once they feel like they understand the situation better. Of course, helping our clients get there can be tricky, particularly when they’re younger.


Therapists often find that playing games with young children helps them process information in a way that they can understand. A good game for dealing with a situation like this is the Ultimate Werewolf party game.


The premise of the game is pretty simple. A small, medieval village is infested with werewolves. Each night, the werewolves murder an innocent villager. When the villagers awaken, they must choose one among them who they believe is a werewolf and kill that person. If the villagers kill all the werewolves, they win. If the werewolves kill all the villagers, they win.


Normally, the game is played with one storyteller and up to 74 other players who take the role of villagers. In a therapeutic setting, where the the therapist and the client are the only two players, the client plays the role of two villagers: The Seer and the Bodyguard. The therapist plays the role of the rest of the villagers, the werewolves, and the lycan.


In the game, the client can use the Bodyguard to protect a villager from the werewolves at night. The client can also use the Seer to look at a villager and determine whether that villager has the magical aura of a werewolf. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. The lycan also gives off the magical aura of a werewolf, but is actually an innocent.


When the game is over, the therapist can talk with the client about the game and how difficult it is in real life to know who is telling the truth. For example, we may think that someone is lying, when in reality they are just as innocent as the lycan. We may think that someone is telling the truth, when in fact they are lying.


Fortunately, we all have resources that we can use to help us determine the truth. Some of those resources are our own internal resources. For example, we may have a gut feeling that can give us the intuitive insight we need to determine who we should believe. We may have had personal experiences that we can rely on to protect us from being deceived. Finally, we have friends and family who have different perspectives who can help us make decisions and stay safe.


For teachers, parents, and/or therapists who are interested in using this game in a therapeutic way, you can find it available on Amazon.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKpalHgRff8

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