You may have heard of the popular game Jenga. Jenga is the classic block-stacking game made by Hasbro, where each person in a group takes a turn removing a single block from a tower and then balancing it on top of the tower until the structure eventually becomes so unstable that it collapses.

When I was admitted to the psychiatric unit in my local hospital during my final semester of college, I was lost and afraid. I had never been more depressed in my life. I was introduced to the concept of group therapy while I was there, and it was during a group therapy session that I was introduced to the game of Therapeutic Jenga.

Therapeutic Jenga was a fun way to get to know other people in the group, and also distract me for just a little bit, from the things that were weighing on my mind. I was able to relax, and use my brain to think about things other than my stressors.

What exactly is Therapeutic Jenga?

Well, the basic concept of the game is the same, but with a little twist.

When each person takes a turn, they have to first remove a block from the stack, but each block will have a question written on it that they must answer aloud to the group. The question could be anything from a simple question like what is your favorite color? or what is your favorite holiday? to what are 3 of your strengths? all the way to what does love mean to you?

The questions can be simple or they can make you think. They are meant to be fun, and they are meant to serve a therapeutic purpose. If the questions make the player uncomfortable, they may also decide to put the block back and choose a different question. The rules are as laid back as you need them to be in Therapeutic Jenga.

Its not as much about competition in this version of the game as it is about having fun and getting a therapeutic effect from it, hence the name.

Examples of questions you may use are:

  • What are you most afraid of?
  • Who is someone special in your life and why?
  • If you could spend 30 minutes with anyone, who would it be?
  • Describe yourself using three words
  • What do you do to calm yourself down in a tense situation?
  • What would be the title of your autobiography?
  • If you could change one thing from your past what would it be and why?
  • How do you think others view you and why?
  • Who is your hero and what makes them your hero?
  • Give an example of a time you helped someone out
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
  • Name three coping techniques you could use when you are anxious

These are just a few examples. There are so many variations of questions that you can use. The questions work best when they are used in a group setting and are discussed afterward. This game is always open to your interpretation. Have fun!

Photo by Claus Rebler