Go Fish

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Simple card games are a great therapeutic tool because they allow the client to focus on the game while still engaging in talk or another intervention. The game distracts from anxiety about the topic at hand and can lower inhibitions. Of course, Uno is probably the most popular therapeutic card game, but it’s important to have other options. You can play Go Fish online at this website.

Once you are on the site, choose “Multiplayer” and “Create Private Table.” You send the link to your client and have a private game of Go Fish.

I have heard of therapists trying to play with actual decks of cards like I have done with Uno, but the tricky part of Go Fish is you can’t hand the cards over to the other person, so I prefer the website to keep the game running smoothly.

Pros of Go Fish online:

  1. It’s a very simple and non-threatening game, so even teenagers who might be resistant to treatment are willing to give it a try.
  2. This version has you collect all four cards instead of just pairs, which adds a component of exercising working memory and executive functioning as you play.
  3. The game randomizes who goes first, so you both get turns starting.
  4. The game walks you through instructions, so younger kids can engage pretty easily.
  5. If you’re working on honesty, your client can’t peek at your cards, but if you’re working on communication or are taking a non-directive approach, you can also tell them what cards you have – there’s flexibility that leaves the therapist in control.
  6. The game has a cute fish cartoon for when you “go fish.”
  7. The draw pile is an actual pile of cards – you get to actually pick your card!

Cons of Go Fish online:

  1. As always, you can’t change the rules – no deciding you’ll only do pairs, etc.
  2. The first time I used the site, both my client and I had trouble navigating the private room, so I feel like this is a little less user-friendly than some of the other sites I’ve used. That being said, once I got past the figuring-it-out stage, it’s run smoothly for me.
  3. The graphics are very 1990’s, which as a millennial I love, but I’ve had kids comment on how “old” the website looks.

As with many of the other card games I talk about, PlayingCards.IO has a non-directive version that lets you tweak the rules. Check both out and see which one works best in your practice!

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. She completed her internship at the National Psychology Training Consortium with specializations in assessment and rural mental health. Currently, she specializes in trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming care, and she is certified in telemental health. Dr. Marschall runs a private practice, RMH Therapy, where she provides individual and family therapy as well as psychological assessments across the lifespan. Dr. Amy Marschall is an author and professional speaker.

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