BYU professor creates card game for mental health


A creative new game created by a BYU professor and psychologist Jon Cox aims at helping children recognize and process their emotions.

The game is Cosmic Battle Training. Imagine a pokemon-like playing game that’s a space battle, where players attack and defend with the ultimate goal of 3000 active defense points. 

But the cards are more than just a game. Each card has a cognitive-behavioral therapy concept that guides and encourages children in the processing of their feelings.

“It’s almost a metaphor that kids would enjoy playing and find interesting,” Cox said. “Helping them and giving a kind of vehicle to think about things and giving them some other ways of approaching stuff.”

Cox developed the idea for the game ten years ago. While working in the outpatient clinic for children and adolescents at the University of Utah, Cox realized he just wasn’t satisfied with the tools available.

He wanted a tool that was engaging and fun, yet could teach and guide children in connecting psychological skills and tips.

“It’s meant to teach children about the concepts of cognitive-behavioral therapy,” he said.

The game creatively encourages players to attack and create defenses. Yet, at the bottom of each card is a  cognitive-behavioral therapy concept that ties into the action of the card. 

“As they’re playing the game, they’re learning which skills apply to which symptoms,” he said.

Cox says the game is not meant to be therapy, but a tool in teaching lessons combined with therapy. The best way for it to be carried out is with the supervision of a therapist or adult who can help guide the children in applying the principles listed on the bottom of the cards.

While the game was created for children struggling with mental health, “My hope was to make it fun enough and interesting enough that any child would want to play it, whether they are struggling or not,” Cox said.

Cox gave advice on how to help people dealing with mental illness, whether young or old. 

“The foundation is love and acceptance and if you are able to communicate to somebody that you care about them, that you love them, you support them, and you want to be there to listen and to help, that’s the foundation. That’s the best thing you can do,” he said.

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