Chess Therapy: What Is It, Techniques, Benefits, And More!

Last Update on June 27, 2024 : Published on June 29, 2024

Chess therapy is one of the most unique types of psychotherapy used for establishing therapeutic rapport between a therapist and a client. As the title of the therapy describes, chess therapy is incorporated around the game of chess. It can be used for gaining insights, understanding negative behaviors, and recognizing the tendencies of socially challenged adults and children.

Additionally, chess therapy can also be implied for understanding the levels of self-harm, impulsivity, and other factors related to social tendencies. In this blog, we will be taking a deep look at what chess therapy is, its benefits, uses, techniques used, and more. So, let’s get started!

What is Chess Therapy?

Chess therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses chess to establish therapeutic rapport between therapist and client. This therapy of psychotherapy also helps in understanding behavioral tendencies, gaining insights, and recognizing the level of risk. By understanding the level of pressures, a client can take or bear, a therapist is able to make a proper diagnosis and prepare an effective treatment plan.

The game of chess as a therapy plan was first used by Rhazes in the 9th century in the Bagdad hospital. The idea behind the development of chess therapy was to help patients understand and reflect on real-life situations under pressure with positive thoughts. In today’s era, it can also be used for developing self-confidence in children.

Chess therapy can also be part of other therapy systems such as:

The techniques involved in chess therapy help create a more relaxed and friendly environment during sessions and help the client vent hidden emotions effectively. The game of chess is used as therapy effectively because this game involves the participation of both parties which helps in recognizing hidden emotions as well.

Some people play chess regularly for mental conditioning. Chess therapy helps channel the innermost emotions, thoughts, and actions related to challenges faced in the past.

What are the Goals of Chess Therapy?

Below listed are some of the important goals of chess therapy:

  • To help the clients understand and clear their minds
  • To replace negative thoughts with positive ones in a constructive manner
  • To rearrange feelings and control clients
  • To check the pressure levels of clients
  • To make the client adjust to challenging or unpredictable situations
  • To prepare clients for negative or challenging situations
  • To develop self-confidence in children
  • To seek control of negative thoughts or feelings

What Techniques Are Used in Chess Therapy?

Chess therapy uses different techniques for bringing different outcomes such as:

  • Abstract Thinking: To build awareness regarding bigger thinking
  • Analytical Observation: To understand the pros and cons of an action
  • Analytical Reasoning: To build logical decision-making
  • Focus: To improve concentration and observation
  • Foresightedness: To build awareness or thoughts related to the consequences of an action
  • Planning: To develop the difference between long-term and short-term goals and their implementation
  • Visualization: To improve imagining and implementation power

What are the Uses and Benefits of Chess Therapy?

Chess therapy is primarily used to teach goal planning, self-control, and self-confidence to clients. Additionally, some studies show that it can also be used for improving a few factors related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children such as attentiveness, thinking ahead, self-control, and planning ahead.

Psychologists around the world also use the techniques of chess therapy to treat other neurobehavioral disorders such as bipolar disorders, depression, and others.

Moreover, chess therapy can also be used for educational uses, especially for educationally disadvantaged children. It helps teach self-control. Additionally, some studies show that it can also help prevent alcohol or drug abuse.

 Some studies show that chess therapy can also be used to help people struggling with Asperger’s Syndrome as it helps in correcting aggressive responses.

Below listed are some of the best uses of chess therapy:

  • Teaches faithful playing
  • Provides an insight into the challenges of life
  • Improves problem-solving skills
  • Teaches self-control
  • Improves goal-planning and resolution-making skills

What Does the Research Say About Chess Therapy?

  • A study conducted in the 1980s by William Levy found that chess as a therapy can help boost self-esteem in children and all children should play chess to understand and interpret challenging situations.
  • A student named Sultan Yusutzai from the USA states, “Chess helps in finding multiple resolutions to one problem.”
  • Research also shows that children with educational disadvantages and special problems can also learn chess for learning abstract reasoning, judgment, recall, and analysis.
  • In New York, The Executive Director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has developed the “ChessChild” program to teach children to control impulse decision-making and delay gratification. The main goal of this program is to resist peer pressure and say no to alcohol and drugs.

What are the Other Benefits of Playing Chess for Mental Health?

Below listed are some of the other benefits of playing chess for mental health:

  • Develops an ability to look from other’s perspectives as well.
  • Improves memory and cognitive skills
  • Helps to enter a flow state
  • Improves creative skills
  • Introduces better planning and reasoning skills
  • Improves relationship and social skills
  • Builds thinking skills
  • Introduces intelligence and empathy

A Word from the Author:

Chess therapy can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD, ADD, dementia, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, depression, and others. Apart from this, chess offers other benefits too! Learning chess from younger years can offer various benefits such as improved creative skills, intelligence, social and relationship skills, and more. Therefore, start young, keep your mind and body active, eat well, and move ahead!

I hope this blog helps you understand what chess therapy is. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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