Checkmate Your Worries: Here's an Overview of Chess Therapy

An Overview of Chess Therapy
A very interesting and creative form of psychotherapy, chess therapy has been around since centuries, but has gained immense popularity as of late.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Did you know?
Chess therapy is considered to have been founded in Baghdad, around the 9th century CE, by Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī, who was also known as Rhazes.
Chess therapy is a creative psychotherapy technique used by many psychiatrists and psychotherapists today. It has gained immense popularity in the past 20 years, and this therapy has been known to show positive results with children who have ADHD, and neurobehavioral disorders.

Many chess players believe that chess develops thinking ability. This game helps develop creative and critical thinking, which is very beneficial if applied in day-to-day life. Some find this game relaxing, whereas, some find it invigorating and rejuvenating, especially after a long day at work or school. This PsycholoGenie write-up elaborates on what chess therapy is, and how it helps.
Chess Therapy
Chess
Chess therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to form bonds between the psychiatrist and his/her clients. It is an alternate diagnosis for neurobehavioral and mental issues that a client may suffer from. Chess therapy helps in forging an intentional interpersonal relationship between the psychotherapist and his patient, to help him through any mental problems that he may be facing. Unlike other forms of therapy, chess therapy does not require the patient to lie down on a couch and pour his heart
How it Works
When you are playing a game of chess, you are constantly thinking. You have to remember and contemplate the moves you and your opponent make. Thus, it helps improve concentration and boosts your memory, by helping it retain information (on the moves made) in a better way. During a game of chess, both players have to constantly make decisions and visualize every move, which helps imbibe decision-making, cognitive thinking, and creativity. Concentration aids in combating depression, thus, chess therapy indirectly helps in keeping depression at bay.

Chess therapy is apt for those who find it difficult to trust others easily or refuse to talk or interact with strangers. While playing a game of chess, one need not talk to anyone. He just needs to make his moves, and monitor those made by his opponent. So, how exactly does this game help someone to open up and start talking. On a daily basis, if you are meeting the same person and engaging in a game with him, slowly and steadily, you both do end up conversing. It always starts with just a greeting or a compliment on how the game was played, and takes off from there. This, in turn, helps negate loneliness, and keeps one happy and healthy.

Chess therapy helps those who have suffered a stroke or have physical disabilities. The brain visualizes the pawns or other pieces to move forward, backward, right, left or diagonal, which subconsciously also helps in refining motor movements.

A game of chess can also be very relaxing. Yes, it does require you to think a lot, but it also makes you forget about your stressful day, by compelling you to concentrate on getting better at your game. It takes you into a different world altogether, where the only thing you need to ponder on is a game, that requires making the best possible moves to win. For those who are under a lot of stress, chess is the perfect stress buster.
How it Helps
Chess therapy is good for any person who has issues with talking to people, making decisions, lacks concentration, has trust issues, low self-esteem, or has suffered a stroke where his basic motor abilities like moving back and forth have been hampered. This therapy may work slowly, but it is effective. It helps develop the mind, by channeling its energy on one game, thus, improving concentration, and making one's memory sharper. As chess is an individual sport, it helps players realize their potential. Through this game, one can make decisions, even if they are just confined to the chess board. Slowly but surely, these decisions are also applied in real life. Low self-esteem reduces when the patient sees himself improving at the game.
The best thing about chess therapy is that one really need not suffer from any mental issues or problems, to enjoy the benefits of it. A game of chess can be played even at home, to completely relax and energize yourself. Play a game with your mother, father, siblings, or any relative who knows how to play, to not only improve your concentration, but also strengthen the bond you share with them.