Chess therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses the game of chess between the therapist and client or among clients in group therapy to form stronger bonds between them towards a goal of confirmatory or alternate diagnosis and thereby a better healing. Its discovery can be credited to the Persian polymath Rhazes (AD 852-932), who was the chief physician of the Baghdad hospital at that time. His used the tactics and strategies of the board games as metaphors to the real life to help his clients to think clearer were rediscovered and employed by Fadul and Canlas.
What to expect?
Thomas Janetius called chess therapy a form of creative therapy. Chess games usually contain most of what one needs need to know about the causality of our psychological troubles; depicting the reason of one’s present condition—victim or martyr, deprived child looking for adventure, sexually impotent, etc.,--and can also show path about the remedy for the disorder.
How does it work?
Chess provides an outlet for the client’s hostile impulses in a non-retaliatory manner. Good use is made of the patient's digressions from the game and the newly acquired ability to speak about the feelings, fantasies and dreams that were particularly touched by the emotional situation of the game. The report demonstrated that the fact chess is a game, and not something real, enabled the patient to exert some conscious control over his or her feelings and thus learn to master them to a limited extent.
The unconscious involved in the game of chess, is not concerned merely putting right the things that have gone wrong in us. In psychoanalysis chess games are kept as apart of wish fulfillment, an important part of wish fulfillment are the result of repressed desires—desires which has potential to scare us and result into a series of defeats. Chess games can be demarcated into wishful games, anxiety games, and punitive games. Punitive games are also fulfillment of wishes, of the critical, censoring, and punishing agency in our controlling minds. According to Jungian Psychology chess imagery is part of a universal symbolic language.
In Gestalt therapy, attempts to fulfill an individual’s emotional voids so that a person can become a unified and functional whole. Some chess games might reflect the rejected, disowned parts of the self. Every chess piece, tactic, and/or strategy in a chess game generally represents an aspect of oneself . By this aspect, chess imagery is not part of a universal symbolic language since each chess game is unique to the individual who played it.
When is it used?
One of the earliest reported and recorded cases of chess therapy indicated the improvement of in an isolated, 16-year-old youth, schizoid patient. Apart from this, the chess therapy is frequently used in treating children with ADHD.
Role of therapist:
The therapist involves himself in the game of chess with the client. In the process of playing he also observes the client’s overt and covert behaviour. Chess games acts as an open pathway toward our true thoughts, emotions, and actions. Chess games are a way of compensating for the shortcomings of one’s life. Thereby, chess games offer the sort of satisfaction that may be more socially acceptable.