Feeling Faces Cards.Com Effective Resources for Counselors, Teachers, and Families

The following games and exercises are courtesy of Kathlyn McHugh, from her paper titled Developing Emotional Intelligence With Feeling Cards. To read her complete paper, click emotional intelligence and feeling cards

“Go Fish”:  All 42 cards are shuffled.  Each player is dealt five cards.  Any pairs (ie. two  “angry” cards) are placed in front of the player.  Players take turns asking, for example, “Do you have ‘happy’?”  If player #2 does not, he says, “Go fish.”  Player #1 then picks one card up from the deck and checks his hand to see if he got a pair.  The object of the game is run out of cards in your hand before the other player.  If the deck runs out before this occurs, players count up the number of pairs and the player with the most pairs wins. 
Skills – develop awareness of various emotions, emotional vocabulary, sight recognition of feelings (precursor to identifying, labeling, and expressing feelings), icebreaker.   

"Memory":  All 42 cards are shuffled and placed face down on large surface; or, clients can choose to play with half the deck or less (have clients choose the cards), as long as all the cards have a pair.  Player #1 picks up a random card, looks at the face (without the other player seeing the face) and places it back down in the same spot.  The object of the game is to remember where the faces are and find the matches.  Player with the most number of pairs at the end wins.
Skills – same as “Go Fish” skills.  Used as an introduction to the feeling cards, as a relationship builder, and to build patience, concentration, and memory.   

“Wildcard”:  Place all the cards face up on a large surface with female cards on one side and male cards on the other.  When the client or group enters ask each of them to pick a feeling card.  Discuss the reasons for their pick.  This may last for 5 min. or the entire session.  Usually this discussion leads into other exercises.
Skills – identify, label, express, assess intensity of feelings.  Know the difference between feelings and actions.  Introduction to self-talk and non-verbal skills.  Self-awareness.    

“The Fortress”:  Often follows “Wildcard.”  Clients are encouraged to explore how feelings shift and change from one to another.  Exploratory questions about the sequence and interconnection of feelings are asked.  As the conversation unfolds, the cards are laid out in a configuration that matches approximately how they unfold inside the client.  Various patterns emerge.     
Example:  Client picks “Sad” card.  Counsellor asks triadic, contextual questions about community (friends/family) to generate domino visual.  Dad feels “Disgust” and mom feels “Worry” when client feels sad.  When mom notices dad’s disgust, she feels “Angry” and Dad feels “Rage.”  Client feels “Anxious,” “Guilty,” “Worry” about this pattern.  After visual is created and discussed, discuss “windows” and “back doors” out of these patterns.  How does dad get from “Rage” to “Content?”  Chart the progression.  What is the domino effect with mom, client? 
Skills – all emotional skills used (unsure how effective at delay or control impulse (*) – opens awareness on topic).  Self-talk, recognizing influences on feelings/behaviour, starting to use steps for problem-solving ie. Identify actions and consequences from feeling/behaviour connection.  Verbal skills developed.

“Charades”:  Used in individual and group.  Individual and group:  primarily used to model and practise effective expression and cueing of emotions.  Client picks a feeling and copies the face and a non-verbal behaviour (behaviour optional).  Counsellor has to guess the emotion.  Group variation:  One client copies face/behaviour and the rest of the family pick a card each that reflects the feeling(s) that face/behaviour evoked.  Guess the emotion and discussion of responses follow.

“Poker”:  Exercise for couple or family counselling. Female and male feeling cards are separated and laid out on large surface.  Each client is asked to come individually and pick feeling faces that represent answers to a number of triadic questions related to the presenting issue.  Clients hold their deck of cards until everyone has finished.  Then everyone lays down their cards together.  Discussion about patterns of responses and levels of accuracy with regards to other-awareness questions open systemic awareness and ideas about the gaps in understanding and possible bridges.
Example:  Which face represents how you feel about this situation? Which face represents mom?  Which face would mom pick for you?  Which face does mom think you would pick for her?  Levels of self and other awareness are revealed and a forum for correcting assumptions and developing empathy and humility is created.  The foundation and rationale for communication skills is established.
Skills – emotional, cognitive, and behavioural skills are targeted.  Verbal and non-verbal behavioural skills are emphasized at and beyond this point.

“Puppets”:  Builds on Dominos and Poker.  This is also an expansion/improvement on the design and use of the feeling faces.  Instead of cards being flat on a surface, “sticks” are attached to the back of the card to enable the faces to “interact.”  In this way, emotions are still externalized (for comfort), but there is more symbolic and physical ownership (and sometimes confrontation) when feeling cards are literally “facing” one another.  Verbal (and even non-verbal posturing) communication spontaneously occurs and issues can be verbally worked through on an emotional level while keeping “egos” at a distance.  With individual clients, puppets can be a way for them to “face” and talk to different parts of themselves.

“Role Play and Rehearsal”:  This builds on, and often naturally unfolds from, “Puppets.”  For individual clients, it can be a way for them to “face” their friends, family, teachers and practice managing their emotions and responses to the others’ emotions.  It is a way for role play and rehearsal to occur without the client feeling like they are performing because it is occurring between faces the client is manipulating.  For groups, it is a non-threatening way to confront, challenge, and express on an emotional level.  It can bring humour in tense moments as well.  

“Packing & Unpacking”:  This is primarily for group counseling.  All the cards should be laid out on the floor or a table with the group sitting in a circle around them.  Each member of the group speaks uninterrupted regarding the presenting issue.  While each group member shares, the other members are attuned to their emotional process in-the- moment and picking up the cards that reflect those feelings (packing).  When it is the next person’s turn to share, they “unpack” the feeling cards they collected by describing the process they experienced.  Members can unpack right away before sharing their perspective on the presenting issue, throughout their sharing time, or choose only to unpack.  


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