Play is fundamental to our human makeup. Not only is it a natural part of who we are, it also has an important role in creating who we become. The young child’s developing brain uses play to learn about the world, to develop personal identity, to test the limits of physical aggression and emotional expression, and to learn the rules of social interaction. In fact, the young learn crucial lessons this way throughout the mammalian kingdom. Through play with each other, and often with the adults around them, the young of all mammalian species learn how their world works.
Humans have applied this understanding of play’s value to a wide variety of adult activities. The military uses war games to test strategies and better predict their outcomes; educators have developed games to help teach subjects as diverse as math and history; the business world utilizes the value of games to help better understand what their clients want, or to bring various parts of the organization into better alignment.
Until now, the role of games in psychotherapy has been mostly limited to working with children (Sand Box, for example), or with adults as ad hoc interventions (the empty chair, role-playing, etc.). Serious Mind Games has created a product that is an integral part of the psychotherapeutic process — the games function as an assessment tool, help organize treatment planning, and can be reused in a number of variations throughout the clinical experience. Finally, the games give clinicians the ability to closely assess the amount of alignment and misalignment among family members, between couples and in the therapist-client relationship itself, in a way that is clearly quantifiable.
Serious games are especially well suited to certain therapeutic approaches, such as Brief Therapy, with its emphasis on the here and now, building on strengths, and pragmatism. For all approaches, time-limited or indefinite, these Serious Mind Games add structural clarity throughout the process.