Rules of the game: board game design as a directive therapeutic intervention

Elana Lakh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to discuss the clinical rationale for designing a tailor-made board game as a therapeutic intervention in play therapy. Games are practiced in play therapy in directive and non-directive ways. Structured and directive approaches are used in individual and group therapy, and enable therapists to identify themes and work them through. A review of the literature concerning the use of games in psychotherapy is suggested in this paper, followed by a detailed rationale for a tailor-made rule-governed board game as a directive theme-focused intervention for short-term group psychotherapy. Such a board game, designed for processing termination in a group of severely deprived adolescent boys in their final year of long-term psychodynamic residential treatment is described. Therapeutic considerations for designing specific elements of the game are described in detail, as well as the symbolic language that served as a framework. Based on a description of clinical thinking used in the preparation of this board game, a discussion of the particular characteristics of designing tailor-made board games as a directive intervention in play therapy is suggested. The paper explains the need for a particular design of game for each specific therapeutic group, based on the identified needs of the participants, as well as on the aim of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-142
Number of pages13
JournalPsychodynamic Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Board game
  • directive approach
  • groupwork
  • termination
  • therapeutic intervention


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