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Exam Anxiety No 1: Applying Therapeutic Cards with CBT

The following is a suggestion for using "The World of Trains" set when working with children clients experiencing anxiety related to tests:

A therapist can invite a child who is experiencing test anxiety and let him/her listen to the following story:

"A train is to carry a very fragile and heavy load to a distant station in the world of trains. This is a very challenging journey. Among the carriages of the train there is one that is very anxious, while another feels quite calm about the ability of the train to cope with the difficult tasks of the journey."

During the second stage, the therapist asks the child to choose cards to represent the carriages and to put them one next to the other to create the train.

The client and the therapist observe the train together, while the client describes it. 

During the third stage the therapist invites the client to enact an imaginary conversation between the different carriages of that train. The therapist takes part in the role-play according to need. The therapist encourages the client to focus on the dialogue between the "Calm or reassuring voice/role " and the "Anxious or frightened voice/role" represented by the two different carriages.

The therapeutic goal of building the train and conducting the role play is to help the child recognize, describe, and learn about the influence of the thoughts that intensify the anxiety and those that soothe it. Throughout the session, and by practicing the different stances, the therapist encourages the client to strengthen his/her 'positive' inner voice, the voice that expresses thoughts, beliefs, emotions and memories that can help him/her cope better with challenging situations, such as the upcoming test.

Numerous other suggestions for using the cards are described in detail in "The World of Trains" guidebook. 

To learn how to use these cards and others, please join one of our online workshops 




Written by Gali Salpeter - Story & Therapy

Expressive Therapist. Spec. Drama and NarrativeTherapy (M.A.)(NFKUT)(I.C.E.T)

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