Construction Games and their Application in Therapy

In recent years, psychological therapy has evolved towards expressive interventions, such as those that occur within the framework of gaming therapies, which are aimed at the client exploring their own resources and generating new ones.

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Lego and other construction games have positioned themselves firmly in adult psychological therapy and in many business coaching processes. What began as a game that fascinated children has ended up being a powerful tool in working with adults. And is that when you think with your hands, we also exercise emotional intelligence-testing tolerance to frustration, for example, visual and kinesthetic.

This provides a lot of information about an individual’s personality, their emotions, their tolerance for frustration and their ability to resolve conflicts. For all these reasons, construction games are frequently used in therapy, both individually and in groups. It is a way that helps develop emotional intelligence, creativity, empathy and other skills.

The construction games therapies

The main model of psychological intervention, based on speech, has been the most traditional to date. In recent years, psychological therapy has evolved towards expressive interventions, such as play therapies or art therapies. These types of therapies are aimed at focusing clients in an exploration of deeper perspectives. The construction games therapies are very effective for the discovery of unconscious contents.

The case of the Lego facilitator method, for example, consists of a highly structured innovative clinical process. There are several models of Lego facilitators. The Lego Serio Play (LSP), which has been used initially in business organizations. The Six Bricks and Play Box that have been used for the development and learning of children. In addition, both have been generalized to various applications in education, family counseling and mental health.

Of special interest is reading the book The Cult of LEGO (Baichtal & Meno, 2011). This work describes social development therapy, based on Lego, at the Center for Neurological and Neurological Development Health of New Jersey.


Psychology doctors, Harn and Hsiao, use LSP therapy to help survivors of violent episodes. They do it through the rebuilding of their interpersonal trust. They also presented a report on the application of LSP therapy with the aim of reducing work stress.

This type of therapy combines Lego constructions with the facilitator’s questions. In this way, the patient should follow the narrative instead of simply sharing personal information. On the other hand, the use of the Six Bricks model has been established as an effective method to promote the capacity of language, cooperation and emotional mediation.

Both approaches are based on creating the positive emotion of building and expanding. They lead to the development of new skills and resources and help in the elimination of negative emotions. According to social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, “playing” is the fastest mechanism to achieve positive emotions. Playing is a scheme that individuals use to build.

The emotional transition produced by creativity and fun helps clients restructure their life stories and perceive their own abilities and resources. The bricks of construction games could well symbolize the obstacles or limits of our own ideas. Thus, when using them to build, the conversion of thought is promoted. In this sense, the tasks with the Six Bricks are simple, but challenging.

Dealing with depression

In conventional therapies, patients with severe depression are often limited in their oral expression. However, through the play of construction games it is easier to get the emotions out.

If the therapy is also in a group, it gives the client the opportunity to develop connections with the other members of the team in a positive social interaction. In short, what this method uses is emotional regulation and cognitive restructuring.

“While the children are building something, they are constantly talking about what they are doing, planning the adventures they are going to do.”

-D. Whitebread-

Construction games and research

These construction games are also being lent to several psychological research studies. In 2011, cognitive psychologist David Whitebread conducted several studies on the relationship of these construction games with speech and self-regulation.

On the other hand, there is another study underway conducted by Miles Richarson, of the University of Derby. This team investigates the skills in construction games as a predictor of mathematical and spatial abilities.

In the document entitled The Ikea Effect: When labor leads to love, the team led by Michael Norton investigated the counterintuitive notion of having to strive to produce increases the willingness to pay for it: consumers give a disproportionately high value to products that they have contributed to create or manufacture. This develops a positive affect and emotional attachment to the constructed product that allows individuals to perceive themselves as competent.