Maria fits the profile of an at-risk student. Her parents are divorced. She speaks limited English. She struggles with depression and a lack of motivation at school. Would a game of chess help? Chess as a tool for therapy opens new doors for counselors.
Fernando Moreno currently serves as a school counselor for the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. He started using chess as a tool for therapy thirty years ago. While working with immigrant students in Washington DC public schools, he realized chess could help develop social-emotional skills.
Why chess? “Students have a less negative view of chess than they do of therapy,” Moreno observes. “So I could start playing and then focus on counseling and therapy goals.”
Students respond positively to the chess activities. In addition, student-teacher relationships change. Moreno noticed that, “Teachers see them in a different way because they know how to play chess.”
Watch “Developing Social Emotional Skills – Using Chess as a Metaphor for Life,” Moreno’s presentation at the 6th Global Chess Festival organized by Judit Polgar in October of 2020.
Read research related to this topic, “The Benefits of Chess for the Intellectual and Social-Emotional Enrichment in Schoolchildren,” in the The Spanish Journal of Psychology.