Jenga®* in Therapy
A Therapeutic Game for Groups and Families
Playing Jenga® in a therapeutic setting can provide a great opportunity for groups or family members to have fun and learn something about themselves and their relationships in the process. This game also provides the opportunity for group members to apply the skills discussed immediately in a fun environment.
I have used this game in groups for 20 years. In that time, I have identified many topics that can be effectively discussed using Jenga® as a way to jump-start the discussion.
Group members have a lot of fun and this helps them remember the concepts discussed long after the group.
I have used Jenga® in a variety of groups in 20 years, including:
- adolescent boys and girls in a psychiatric hospital setting (Dual Diagnosis).
- family therapy with adolescent patients in a psychiatric hospital
- adolescents in children’s residential home
- adolescents in a partial hospitalization program
- adults in an outpatient group
- adults in an IOP
- adults in a 30 day residential substance abuse program
- adult males in a 6 month jail-based substance abuse program (SAP)
My experience with using Jenga® in a therapeutic setting, group members enjoy themselves and remember concepts discussed— including ways to apply the concepts to their life. Any, or all, of the therapeutic skills or goals may be discussed in a session though I have found it more effective to have a specific focus for the session.
All of the original rules for the game Jenga® are observed with a
few additional rules that help with using this game in a therapeutic
As the group facilitator you will also need to be the referee and enforce the rules. Make sure you are very familiar with the rules before you begin the group session.
I have developed the additional rules over time as I have used this game in groups. These rules work for me and my purposes. You may choose to follow different rules or alter these to fit your tastes. I encourage you to do what makes sense to you. No matter what rules you use be sure to be consistent.
In addition to rules and method for using Jenga® in therapy, I also have included a list of therapeutic topics / concepts and some sample goals that I have used with groups and families.
* Jenga® is a registered trademark of POKONOBE ASSOCIATES in Ross, CA 94957. Jenga® is distributed by Milton Bradley Company/Hasbro.
The author, Tim Gray, is not associated, in any way, with the makers, distributors, or trademark holders of Jenga®.
All information related to using Jenga® in a therapeutic group and family sessions is the original work of Tim Gray based on his experience with using this game in various therapeutic settings since 1992.