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BYU psychologist creates mental health card game for kids

PROVO, Utah — After a decade of work and refining the gameplay, a BYU clinical psychologist has released a card game to help kids learn and apply mental health concepts.

“Each card is different and presents concepts related to cognitive behavioral therapy that are common for people with anxiety and depression,” said Jon Cox, a psychologist and associate clinical professor at Brigham Young University.

Cox said he saw the need for a therapy support game while working with children, but couldn’t find one on the market.

“I was looking for tools that I use in therapy to kind of get the kids learning and understanding the therapeutic concepts we were talking about,” he said.

That’s when he started jotting down ideas and developing the game. Through the years, he relied on family, friends and a gaming group to give feedback so that he could polish the rules of the game. The result is a 62-card game called Cosmic Battle Training.

“My goal for the game was to make it something that people would enjoy playing whether or not they were interested in the therapeutic concepts,” Cox said.

Jon Cox, psychologist and associate clinical professor at Brigham Young University (KSL TV)

When it came time to design the visual look of Cosmic Battle Training, Cox hired BYU animation student Ivy Rich to design the playing cards.

“After talking with Jon and getting a sense for the game I was really excited to work on this,” Rich said in a BYU press release. “We started with some initial concepts and would go back and forth until we had the basic model and design concepts understood.”

While the goal of the space battle game is to help children understand their mental health, Cox said he also wanted to make the game fun.

“I played it with my 7 year old and he loves the game,” Cox said. “He especially likes the illustrations.”

Cox said his game isn’t a substitute for therapy, instead it can be used in conjunction with therapy.

“It’s just meant to help them become more familiar with the concepts and then working with a therapist, the therapist can help them refine how they’re going to apply it in their lives,” he said.

The game is for two to four players and typically lasts 15 to 45 minutes. It’s designed for children 8 years and older.

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