Home of the Bear Cards

The Bear Cards® – Ideas for Therapists

In this context the term therapist is used as a general term to describe a person professionally trained in helping people to deal with emotional, social, behavioral and spiritual issues using mainly psychological techniques. Common areas of professional expertise include psychiatry, psychology, social work, welfare, counseling, pastoral care, personal development and coaching. If this describes your work, then this page is for you.

Here you will find ideas and stories, submitted by therapists, on how the cards have been used. We actively encourage you to share your ideas and stories on this site. Submit your idea or story about how The Bear Cards® can be used and, if we publish it, we’ll send you a free set of cards.

Using The Bear Cards®

  • Overview


    The Bear Cards are an ideal prompt for therapeutic conversations about feelings. The cards have been designed to portray a wide range of emotions and include variations of the more common feelings such as happy, sad, fearful and angry. Without the use of written words, The Bear Cards encourages people to use their own words in describing feelings. Likewise, the feelings portrayed on the cards are open to individual interpretation. Different people may interpret the same card very differently.

    The numbers on the cards can be useful if you wish to keep a record and track changes in feelings over time. Our initial trial of the cards indicated that the presence of numbers was not a source of distraction for clients. It may, however, sometimes be appropriate to reassure people that the numbers do not represent ‘scores’, values or any type of measure.

    The Bear Cards may not appeal to everyone and you will need to first consider their appropriateness for any given situation.

    You may also find some of the Games, Activities and Ice Breakers useful in your practice.

  • Benefits


    The Bear Cards are bright, colourful and easy to handle. The characters have a broad appeal (just watch people smile when they first see them).

    Without written words, the cards are ideal for use with young children or people with limited literacy or language skills.

    Sometimes people find it difficult to articulate how they are feeling. They may experience a number of different, confusing or even conflicting feelings at the same time. Looking through the cards can assist people to recognise and identify feelings that may not otherwise be obvious.

    The cards provide an alternative ‘focal point’ for your client. Sometimes people find it easier to think, summon memories or express themselves without direct eye contact. The cards can give them ‘permission’ to do so.

    For some people talking about feelings can be a rather unfamiliar and abstract concept. The Bear Cards can provide a more ‘concrete’ means to facilitate feelings’ conversations.

  • Using The Bear Cards

    Using The Bear Cards

    The Bear Cards can be used with individuals, couples and groups.

    The way you use The Bear Cards in any particular situation will, of course, be determined by what you wish to achieve. The cards help people to explore, recognise, identify and, hopefully, communicate how they feel. How you actually use this information to facilitate positive change is dependent on your own professional experience and skill.

    The easiest way to use the cards is to ask the person to look through the set and choose one or more cards that best portray the way they are feeling. This creates an opportunity to ask questions and to engage in meaningful conversation.

    Looking through all 48 cards may initially be too onerous for some people. In this case it may be useful to prepare a smaller set showing a more basic range of feelings by removing some of the cards. Other cards can then be introduced to help identify the feeling more accurately.

Ideas for Therapists

  • The Bear to Be

    Ideas for Therapists: The Bear to Be

    Spread the bear cards on a desk or table and get the client to select one or two which represent how they would like to feel.
    Brainstorm with the client what life will be like when they have reached this feeling.
    Make a list of all the things they will be doing that they aren’t doing now.
    Photocopy the card/s and use the surrounding space on the copy to list the things that will help the client become this bear.
    Get them to place the photocopy somewhere prominent at home like the fridge or on the wall beside their bed.
    Further counselling sessions can work on taking the steps to make these dreams and plans become a reality.

  • Bad Hair days

    Bad Hair days

    Ask your client to look at all the bear cards and select ones that show how they feel on their worst days. Discuss the chosen feelings. Ask them to select one feeling they would like to explore. Discuss the situations where this feeling arises. Help the client fully understand the feeling and what contributes to its presence. Brainstorm ways to deal with this feeling.

  • Meeting the Family

    Meeting the Family

    In a family meeting use The Bear Cards to help family members identify their feelings about their family. Ask each member to explain the card to the rest of the family. Provide counselling and education to the family on ways to change/improve their feelings.

  • Barrier buster

    Barrier buster

    Ask the client to select a card showing how they feel now. Then get them to select a card showing how they would like to feel in the future. Discuss what the differences are and what the barriers are to becoming the second bear. Make plans to address these barriers, eg; study to become more skilful in an area; daily self praise to build self esteem etc.

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