The COVID-19 pandemic has led to counselors searching for free games and tools for virtual counseling sessions. Although the pandemic has led to many challenges, one positive aspect is that counselors have been expanding their skillsets as they learn to navigate the virtual counseling world. Whether you are a school counselor meeting with children through distance learning or a clinical counselor who is navigating TeleHealth, there is a wide range of free games and tools for virtual counseling.
Why Use Games and Tools in Virtual Counseling?
Providing virtual counseling services can be as simple as using empathic listening and helping children build upon their skills. However, we know that research shows that children learn best through hands-on activities and play. By incorporating virtual games and tools into your counseling sessions, you can create extra engagement as children learn through play. In addition, counseling sessions that involve play also help to build a trusting relationship between the child and the counselor. Keep reading to learn about free games and tools for your virtual counseling sessions.
Free Interactive Games
The following list of interactive games can be played live during your virtual counseling or TeleHealth sessions. Although the steps for each website vary, you can follow these general directions to get started:
- Click the link below to open the game website.
- Follow the directions to start a new game.
- Click “invite a friend” or “play with a friend” to create a shared game link.
- Share the direct link to your game through the chat function in your GoogleMeet, Zoom, or another virtual counseling platform.
- Play the game live with your student or client as you chat.
Free Interactive Art Tools
Interactive art tools can be used in virtual counseling sessions in a variety of ways. Explore the sites below to use art as a tool for expression, coping skills, and more.
Witeboard: Witeboard is a simple digital drawing tool that can enhance your virtual counseling sessions. Click “share” to share the direct link to your whiteboard, which allows your client to access the same whiteboard as you. Ideas to get you started:
- Draw 3 things that make you feel (insert feeling here).
- Create a picture of your family.
- Play a game of hangman to highlight a counseling-related word (pro tip: build a snowman versus drawing a picture of a traditional hangman).
- Play Pictionary using coping skills or feelings.
- Draw your favorite place to be.
Quick Draw: Use this drawing tool from Google as a fun way to interact with your client during virtual counseling. Share your screen to introduce the tool. You get 20 seconds to draw the prompt that is on the screen. Best for ages 8 and up.
Color Your Own Mandala: Share your screen to teach your client how to color a virtual mandala. Click “color” and then choose a mandala to color with virtual ink. Introduce this site as a relaxation tool for your client.
Inspirograph: Inspirograph is a digital version of the traditional Spirograph tool. Share your screen to teach your client how to use this relaxing tool.
Free Virtual Sandtray
A sandtray is one of the best expressive tools to use when counseling children. Now, you can use a virtual sandtray to accomplish some of the same benefits as using sand in real life. Your client can share their screen with you as you provide sandtray building prompts. Ideas to get you started:
- Build a relaxing place
- Create the best school day ever
- Create a world that shows your thoughts about distance learning
- Build a scene of your family doing something together
- Design a scene about the emotion (insert emotion here)
- Create a memory from your past
- Build a world that shows your future
Free Virtual Manipulatives
Many counselors may choose to use their web camera or a document camera to utilize favorite games from their office during their sessions. For instance, you may use counseling game cards, a Thumball, or a favorite board game like Don’t Break the Ice. Use your favorite games in a virtual way by using virtual manipulatives to help you out. Ideas to get you started:
- Marble Jar: Share your screen and use the virtual marble jar as a visual representation of the amount of coping skills, random acts of kindness, or feelings that a client can name. In addition, if you are running a virtual small group, use the marble jar as a visual representation of participation. Set a goal as a group at the beginning of the session. For example, if the group can reach 10 marbles by the end of the session, you can end the session with a game.
- Timer or Stop Watch: Share your screen and use the virtual timer or stopwatch to help you keep track of how much time is left for an activity.
- Dice or Spinner: Use the virtual dice or spinner as an interactive tool to help engage your client as you play a game virtually.
Free Virtual Spinner
Use the Wheel of Names virtual spinner to create your own custom spinner. Ideas to get you started:
- Add student names to use as a student selector during classroom lessons or small groups.
- List names of feelings. Have your client act out the selected feeling or tell about a time that they felt that way.
- Here is an example of a custom spinner that is set up for a virtual scavenger hunt. Simply share your screen, spin the spinner, and your client can go search for the selected item from the wheel. Virtual scavenger hunts are a great way to engage students during virtual small groups and virtual classroom lessons.
More Resources for Virtual Counseling
Looking for more distance learning and virtual counseling tips? Check out this post about 7 Tips to Make Distance Learning Easier for Counselors.
Looking to create a Virtual Counseling Office for your students to use at home? Click here to find great tools to use in your virtual office!
The following paid resources are also available to enhance your virtual counseling sessions. Each resource was created by a Confident Counselor who is working alongside you to navigate the virtual counseling world.
- Color Your Feelings: Feelings Exploration for Distance Learning by EduKate and Inspire
- Coping Skills Game for Self-Regulation Printable or For Google Slides™ by The Responsive Counselor
- Growth Mindset YETi Boom Cards by The Counseling Teacher
- Social Emotional Learning Google Slides Games Bundle by Counselor Chelsey
- Social Emotional Learning Cover and Connect Games Bundle by The Middle School Counselor
- Digital Calm Down Corner Google Slides™ Activity by Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor
- “Lucy’s Mask” Book Companion and No Prep Mini Lesson by Pawsitive School Counselor
- Lunch Bunch Activities: Games for Distance Learning for School Counseling by Counselor Keri
Whatever tools you choose to use for virtual counseling sessions, use them confidently! Do you have other free resource recommendations for virtual counseling? Please share your favorites with us in the comments!
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Kate is an Elementary School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor from Ohio. She began her career in education in 2007 and enjoys creating hands-on lessons that both educate and inspire children. Kate also enjoys helping counselors with organization, classroom management, and school-wide programming. Kate is grateful to be able to collaborate with many amazing educators online and in the community!
Visit her TPT store, EduKate & Inspire.