Telehealth Activity: Farkle

Here we go, I have yet another game you can play with your clients over telehealth! Farkle is a dice game where players take turns trying to accumulate points by rolling certain combinations. In my experience, its combination of luck and strategy makes it both fun and great for play sessions.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and both scenarios open the door for processing emotions that come up in the session. Since you can’t control what you roll, the therapist cannot simply let the client win, so eventually both parties experience both scenarios, letting the therapist both help the client with their process and model regulation. (With physical dice, there is always the potential for “cheating” to win, which of course brings up its own therapeutic process. But with this telehealth version of the game, that is impossible.)

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I have not played Farkle in my in-person sessions very much for the same reason I don’t play a lot of Yahtzee in-person: I find that the energy and focus that goes into tracking scores pulls from the session itself. (I am, of course, not saying that it is impossible to keep score while effectively providing therapy, but that I personally have trouble with it. Blame it on the ADHD.)

You can create a private, password protected Farkle room on Buddy Board Games. Have your client go to the website and input your room name and password to join. The website has a handy guide for what dice combinations equal scores.

When you roll, you select which dice you want to set aside, how many rolls you want to take, and when you are ready to “bank” your points. If you don’t get any points on a roll, you “Farkle.” Your turn ends, and you get no points for that turn. The winner is the first person to accumulate 10,000 points.

Sometimes, you will Farkle on your first roll. How frustrating! How do you cope with that? Other times, your opponent will have a string of good luck, and you fall behind. How do you handle that emotion? On the other side, you might find yourself with Hot Dice (when all the dice rolled accumulate points, so you get to roll again). How exciting! How do you express excitement?

How do you decide when to bank? What risks are you comfortable taking, and do they pay off? How do you handle feelings of regret when a risk does not pay off like you want it to?

The options for exploration are endless, yet fun and non-threatening through the lens of a simple dice game.

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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