How to use The Mood Cards in professional settings

The Mood Cards being used in various settings

How to use The Mood Cards in Professional settings

The Mood Cards are being used in numerous professional setting:  counselling and therapy rooms, coaching and NLP practices, primary and secondary schools, youth services, hospices, social care settings such as probation and homeless projects, childrens homes, adoption agencies, other mental health settings and programmes such as addiction services, eating disorder services and domestic violence units.

We are delighted to also see the cards being used as a resource is for children on the autistic spectrum.  Below are some ideas on how to use the cards in the various settings:


Counselling adults

In my own therapy room the cards sit in a beautiful sun shaped glass dish and I regularly shuffle the cards so the same one is not visible.  Today the top card is Shame and yesterday it was Forgiving.  Clients are attracted to the cards and are curious about them, the colours and how they work. If they show interest I invite them to choose a card.  Alternatively, sometimes people are stuck about what to talk about or find it hard to even start talking, happens a lot with teenagers.

This is how I use them.  I ask the client to either shuffle the pack and pull a card and work with that or alternatively they can choose the card they want to work with.  Depending on how much time we have they can choose up to 3 cards in a session.  I usually allow at least 10-15 minutes per card.  I ask the client to hold the card close to their heart and think about what comes up for them or why they chose it.  I then ask the client about that.  This process helps to mindfully accept what is going on which in itself is a transformational moment.  We then move onto the questions.  I ask the questions and the client answers.  I use the questions as a guide, sometimes changing the words to make them more appropriate to the situation.  I encourage the client to go deeper and explore further before moving onto the next question.  It is amazing how the cards help people to open up and go deep.  The last thing we look at is the affirmation which I offer to the client, asking them if that feels right for them.  If it does we practice saying the affirmation.  I model how to say it with strength and conviction, using stronger deeper voice tone, sometimes standing and grounding feet to the floor.  The affirmation helps to build strong thoughts and beliefs.  If the client doesn’t like the affirmation (unusual but it happens) I ask them to create their own one, that feels real.  Different ways that clients ask to use the cards have been:

  • lay them out on the floor and choose 2 or 3 cards
  • put them into colour codes and choose based on colours
  • dealing them out like a card game in a circle with cards overlaying each other
  • dealing them in a spread – a bit like tarot
  • going with the negatives
  • going with the positives
  • choosing a card at random after shuffling

The cards really help clients to make choices and feel empowered.  If you have any ideas to share on how you use the cards please do comment or message me.

Counselling couples

The cards help couples understand each other’s feelings and thought processes.  Its important that each person picks their own card to work with, rather than being directed towards working with certain cards by their partner.  The process of choosing the card can bring meaningful conversation into the room.  Its useful  to encourage the couple to ask each other the questions on the back and practice their listening skills.  Communication is generally the number 1 problem between people so the cards offer a good opportunity to improve these skills.  Before you use the cards with couples explain the importance of not jumping in with their own opinions but instead allowing each other to talk.

Counselling children

Teenagers and young children love choosing cards based on colours and tend to enjoy looking through the pack.  Its a great way to encourage them to open up and when you see their bright little faces talking it makes you realise how important it is for children to have a voice and be heard.  Whilst the questions on the backs may not always be suitable for very young children they can be changed to make them appropriate.  Some good questions to ask children are:

Why did you choose that card?

How does it feel – hot or cold, sharp or smooth etc?

Where is that emotion visiting, is it inside your tummy or heavy on your back?

What does it look like – big, small, shiny, dark – help the child to describe it

How does it sound – is it loud or soft?

What is it saying to you, is it telling you something, reminding you of something?

What is its message?  

Questions help children to open up about themselves and their lives.  Children tend to come back to the cards and choose different ones each time.  Another way to would be to get children to write a personal journal about about emotions or create stories using emotions and different characters. All of this naturally helps children with language skills and communication skills, much needed and often lacking.

Coaching and NLP

Many coaches and NLP practitioners are not qualified counsellors so when their clients get very emotional this can feel uncomfortable.  Using the cards provides a structured framework to explore moods and emotions and experiences in a safe and contained way.  Where they are particularly helpful in business coaching or life coaching is in helping clients overcome obstacles to success.  For example, looking at the fear or anxiety card and answering the questions can help to overcome the blocks to people moving forward.

The Mood Cards in Mental Health Settings – early intervention tool

If being used in 1 to 1 settings follow my ideas above.  If being used in group work such as recovery, anxiety, depression, eating disorder groups I suggest the facilitator chooses the topic of the week and uses perhaps 1 or 2 cards to promote group discussion or small group discussion with a view to sharing.   You could also offer the participants the opportunity to choose which card to work with.  If the group is looking at relationships then you might choose the love, disappointment, resentment or forgiveness.  If working in an anxiety group you could look at fear, anxiety and brave card.

Working with eating disorders or people that self-harm

People that fall into these categories find it very hard to engage with their emotions, verbalise them or regulate them.  The cards offer a non-threatening opportunity to unlock feelings .  Because the cards ask specific questions they can be answered in a general way or a more specific way, depending on the person.   The cards also help to name and identify which emotion is being felt.  By separating them out it becomes clearer for people to see that they are not overloaded with emotions all at once, although it may feel that way.  The cards help young clients to identify which emotions they are feeling and then talking seems to flow.  One of the main reasons for this is the way people relate to the faces themselves and the colours.  It opens up space to let go and release which is a way to heal emotional trauma and wounds.

The Mood Cards and Mood Disorders

People with Bipolar and Borderline (BPD) find it very hard to regulate their moods.  Using the cards helps them to see that there are a whole range of emotions which we all go through and talking through the questions can help to maintain stability.  Please let me know if you are Bipolar/BPD and using the cards, how you use them and how they work.  I’m interested to share more on this.

Do you battle emotions on a daily basis.  The cards were recently described online as “a blessing in disguise”.  They help people face up to the depth of themselves and can be used creatively for journal writing, song writing, poetry, music, drama  and so much more.  Because highly emotional people are also very creative there are limitless possibilities for expression of being who you are.

Social care settings

Because the cards “ask the questions” it makes it possible for professionals to open up meaningful but perhaps difficult conversations in a non-threatening way.  The cards not only help people to face up to themselves and their lives but offer tools to move forward and empower people.


In primary schools – younger children teachers love using the cards in sharing circles and story writing.  Getting the children to think emotionally helps them understand themselves and their lives.  Where children need more emotional support the cards are an easy way for a child to say how they are feeling by even just pointing at the image or holding the card.  Teachers in secondary schools can use them in groups around health, social and sex education.  Ideal when talking about relationships, expectations or peer pressure.

I was recently sent this lovely photo of the cards being used in a primary school for years 5 and 6.

The Mood Cards - Teaching

The Mood Cards in primary school

Here’s another great example of The Mood Cards being used in a school setting:


Autistic Spectrum

Rather than focusing on the social skills the cards help to work on the sensory issues, the awareness, the emotional stuff which is the most important aspect.  Its what really matters and if you can work on that you can help resolve issues in other areas.

Its very rewarding to know the Mood Cards are being used in schools and in homes with children on the autistic spectrum.  The cards help parents and teachers to connect to children in a unique way, connecting to the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch..   Children feel and sense emotions in the body before they can even understand what an emotion is. Holding a card helps the child to connect in a mindful way to themselves and what is going on inside them.  This self-awareness helps to build confidence in communication and can increase empathy too.

Working with Dementia 

The cards can be used in group work or an individual basis.  For example working with the proud card can help people to talk about their families and grandchildren.  The questions on the back ask “What do you feel proud of”   What are your greatest achievements?  Imagine people being able to tap into their lives and all the beautiful memories from the past from when they were young,  teenage years, work life.  Perhaps they served in the army or volunteered to help others.  Retriggering memories keeps the brain active so can also be an early prevention strategy.

It can be very difficult being a carer or family member of someone suffering dementia.  Conversations are repetitive and it can leave everyone feeling drained and without hope. The cards can be used to lighten conversations, trigger memory and help everyone connect with happier times or meaningful events from the past.  Use them to help you find ways to connect with your loved ones.

I can remember when I used to visit my Uncle Danny in the care home.  He asked the same questions over and over.  It was hard to see the deterioration of a man that used to be full of life.  When we asked him about his stage career (he used to be a comedian on the stage with Hughie Green in the 1950s) his face would light up and all the memories came flooding back .  He would have us in stitches of laughter, it was like old times and now when I think back to those visits they are happy memories.

If you require any additional information on using the Mood Cards in a professional capacity, please get in touch with Andrea.