HipBone Games in dreamwork and psychology

A preliminary, brief exploration of some possible applications of the HipBone Games in therapy.

Charles Cameron

It is my sense that the Game may have application to therapy, if appropriate boards and rules can be devised within it which model the various twists and turns of association and symbolic analysis by which a therapist can "lead" a patient to a fuller disclosure of emotion, and thus to a release.

Most obviously, the Game has much in common with the technique of word association (Freud and Jung), and could be used in a similar manner, although permitting the use of images as well as words.

The Game could also be used as a variant on "sand tray" therapy, allowing a patient to place items such as an image of "father" and the word "wound" in juxtaposition on the board, while still unable to articulate the connection in words -- thus leading the therapist to pose precisely those questions which will bring the still unconscious contents to light.

A few other ideas have occurred to me that would depend on some specifically "therapeutic" Board designs.

It seems to me that when people feel the "negative" emotions -- anger, sorrow, fear and so on -- there is often a "thought" component which goes along with the emotion, and which for some people is what they will talk about if you ask them what they are feeling. Being able to distinguish the "reasoning" from the "feeling" is a helpful strategy in therapy. It may be possible to devise a Game format that would separate these two things out, so that each could be explored separately from the other, but in parallel with it.

Very often, a feeling in the present relates to a present circumstance, but also contains a great deal of feeling that wasn't able to find a way out at some earlier time. Someone does something which is the "hook" on which a "coat" of previously buried feelings can hang, and in this case, too, being able to separate the present event ("hook") from the past events ("coats") and exploring both in separate but parallel areas of a Game board might be helpful.

When an emotion of this kind is thoroughly expressed, there is often (always?) a moment which Eugene Gendlin refers to as a "Felt Shift", in which the body shifts (eg by releasing a tension in the neck -- "a load off my back"), and a new emotion may take the place of the original one at this point. Anger may give way to fear, for instance (the anger was a "defense" that covered the fear), and when the underlying emotion has been expressed, it may be greeted with far more compassion and understanding than the defensive overlay... These "felt shifts", too, might be modeled on a Game board.


Finally, I believe the Game would be a godsend in dream analysis: allowing a dream to be mapped in such a way that its hidden associations and symbolism become transparent. I am currently (8/96) exploring this possibility in an online Dream Group conducted with Walter Logeman,the New Zealand psychotherapist who maintains the Psybernet site.

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HipBone Games rules, boards, sample games and other materials are copyright (c) Charles Cameron 1995, 96. See Concerning Copyright for full copyright details.