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Great Expectations CBT Counseling Game

Updated: Jan 1

Great expectations - a CBT game for managing expectations

Great Expectations is a counseling game that incorporates cognitive behavioral counseling (CBT) techniques to help children process emotions. The primary goal of this game is to help children manage their expectations of others based on consistent patterns in behavior. This is ideal for children who have people in their lives who are inconsistent with visits or make promises that they do not keep. This could be an absent parent or a loved one with substance abuse issues.

The fairytale theme is engaging and fun for the kids. They can tell stories and use some creativity as they play. There are eight different topics addressed in the game:

Worth the wait cards to maintain positivity

Worth the Wait - Waiting for something you hope for can be hard. These cards highlight the benefits of patience and endurance while you wait for something you hope for.

jumping to conclusions cards help prevent making assumptions

Jumping to Conclusions - Making assumptions leads to hurt feelings and frustration. These cards help kids recognize the value of asking questions to understand a situation rather than assuming.

embrace the journey of life with thse counseling prompts

Enjoy the Journey - Life is a journey with lots of ups and downs. It is easier to cope with the pitfalls of the journey when you keep your head up and look for what has been good. These prompts encourage kids to embrace the moment and glean the good.


breathing exercises for  calming emotions
unrealistic expecations turn into disappointments. These cards help prevent unrealistic expectations.

Unrealistic Expectations - When expectations are unrealistic, disappointment is bound to happen. Kids will be challenged to reconsider the expectations and challenge thoughts driving the unrealistic expectations.

Process grief related to loss of relationships

Severed Dreams - Some relationships are lost and severed. It may come through death, a loved one moving away, or damaged relationships. Any way you look at it, pain is involved. Kids are able to process the grief of loss and mourn the loss of their loved ones. Another aspect of these cards is realizing that the person they love will not likely be the person they want them to be. This may happen with a parent with a drug problem or who is in prison. The loss of the dream of who they want them to be is a source of grief.

Poisonous thoughts can be prevented using CBT skills.

Poisonous Thoughts - Stinking thinking causes problems. Kids will be challenged to use their CBT skills to confront negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Perhaps they need to forgive someone or let go of ruminating thoughts of something that was wrong.

hope for the best but prepare for the worst

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst - We all want our loved ones to step up and show up, but sometimes that doesn't happen. Having an openness to love the person while also recognizing a pattern of instability can help prepare kids to have a plan in place if things don't go as expected.

the magic wand cards ask the miracle question in several ways.

Magic Wand - The miracle question is asked in several different ways to help kids identify what would be different if they woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect. Identifying the goal can help with making a plan to get there.

great expectations game board.

Managing expectations can be hard, especially for kids. They need help with navigating how to set their expectations based on the type of relationship they have. I often tell kids that you can be in a relationship with just about anyone with the right boundaries. Kids need a lot of extra help with finding appropriate boundaries, especially for complicated relationships. Great Expectations is a helpful game to add to your counseling toolbox to help with CBT skills.


Helpful Resources:

Great expectations is a game to help kids manage expectations in relationships.

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