When children are brought to a therapist’s office, they often feel confused and/or that they’ve done something wrong. For children to be successful in understanding their feelings in the situation that brought them to therapy, they need help identifying their feelings. We start with “mad, sad, glad, and scared” and then expand from there. Many children are pre-verbal or have difficulty expressing themselves. So we need props! We need to show them the way to understanding!
The Feeling Blocks are the best prop I’ve found in 30 years working with children. We throw them, playing and naming feelings as we play. That…puts the “FUN” in Functional!
A Selective Mutism 4 year old patient could not talk to me but the Blocks got her to understand herself in her “scary” world of preschool and adults. Her smile was the first step to healing.
A family of 3 kids were tossing them back and forth, naming the worst and the best feelings in their family…as the parents contemplated divorce…something they could control was the expression of their feelings through the blocks…they eventually could even identify how they felt out of control regarding the divorce. Once this insight was gleaned, the sibling fights diminished and you could visibly see their love and closeness.
With a 7 year old profoundly gifted girl, she started with a simple expression of feelings then loved going to the most difficult level of feelings, using the blocks as a vocabulary lesson. At which point she said to me: “you know, animals have lifetime laryngitis.” I asked: “What do you mean?”. She replied: “They will never be able to talk; but I can say all these big words about my feelings!”
Dr. Valerie Maxwell – ADDSOI Center

Asperger’s Syndrome Mom’s experience with Feeling Blocks

Ten-year-old boys are not known for being great communicators. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome last year, I despaired of being able to effectively communicate with him as we worked through issues of understanding and adjusting to his special needs. As the mother of a special needs child, I experienced emotional highs and lows with my son, and felt a lot of frustration and guilt on my part for not being able to understand what he was going through or what he was feeling. He also was frustrated in trying to communicate with me and with his therapist, unable to find the right words or phrasing or context to convey his heart. With Feeling Blocks, I experienced the joy of being able to break through those barriers and find a way for both of us to work together to discover together what we both were feeling.

I will never forget that moment as we sat down for the first time with the Feeling Blocks. My son had experienced a particularly frustrating day at school and was resistant to letting me know how he felt. In reality, he didn’t know how to communicate his feelings. As we sat down with the blocks, he suddenly started turning them over and over, pointing to the words that helped him let me know what was in his heart, and helped me understand where his feelings were coming from. The relief of just knowing, finally, was immense. We continue to use them to this day to help us break through when either of us feel stuck. I am so grateful to Feeling Blocks for providing this valuable tool for helping my son and my family to grow closer, communicate more effectively and understand how we can help each other to move forward.
Dawn Mena

Feeling Blocks has been a wonderful tool for helping adults identify their feelings. It is amazing how many people do not have a vocabulary for expressing their response to the behavior of others. Feeling Blocks help couples talk to each other in ways that take away blame and resentment and focus them on honesty and solutions. It’s not a toy, it’s a tool.

Virginia Green, PhD

What I like about The Feeling Blocks is seeing Jackson react with the word (ex. “Scared”) AND the tone (ex. timid for “scared”) AND the physical motion (ex. arms and shoulders pulled close to body for “scared”) for each feeling. He does it for all of the words. A tone and physical motion are associated with each feeling and he will use them in every day occurrences outside of actually sitting and working with the Blocks. He is 2 years 4 months old and he’s learning a way to express feelings already! Essential building blocks beginning at 2 years old!

Jackson’s Daddy

I have been using Feeling Blocks with my clients….of all ages. For kids, it’s a great way to get them to begin talking about feelings, authoring their stories and processing difficult situations. For teens and adults, it’s a playful way to begin integrating thoughts and the “felt” experience. For couples and families, Feeling Blocks can provide the empathic “in” to a new way of communicating.

Thanks for a great product Mary Ann!

Lesli Johnson, MFT

Author, Your Mindful Brain

I believe that using the “Feeling Blocks” helped my daughter not only learn to identify her feelings but to communicate those feelings to others. She has a greater self awareness and confidence. Using the “Feeling Blocks” also strengthened our relationship.

Laura Rae Fineman

Fineman Communications

The feeling blocks is a tool used to communicate feelings. Regardless if there is a huge dilemma or a minor issue, the feeling blocks will be useful. I think that for most people, sharing feelings is rather uncomfortable and painful. This was true for me as a child, having said that, I did not even talk until the age of three. Having feelings on a block in front of me, I was able to easily identify my emotions, without feeling struggle or discomfort. It is quite challenging to arbitrarily come up with your own words to express your feelings, therefore the feeling blocks make communicating easier and healthier. Even now, after several years of dealing with my own developmental life dramas, I still always go back to the image of a feeling block in my head. It helps me understand my own feelings as well as the feelings of others.

Delaney Cole  Age 26

Helped create the Feeling Blocks at age 4

Growing up with the feeling blocks has enabled me to accomplish tasks in multiple jobs, in meaningful and much more efficient ways. As a Resident Advisor in my college, I had to learn mediation, a skill I already possessed through years of feeling block training, which enabled me to help people more effectively.

Without the feeling blocks I would not be who I am today. I have learned to voice my feelings, stick up for myself without putting others down, mediate real life situations and work my way up in my various workplaces by showing respect and an understanding of others feelings. The feeling blocks changed my life for the better and I hope someday that feeling blocks are in every home, school and business. I could not recommend them fast enough.

Dara Fineman age 29

Started using Feeling Blocks at age 7

The Feeling Blocks are AMAZING!

I use them almost every day with patients. We have several therapists that have come to know the phrase, “we used the feeling blocks to……” It’s great! Recently they have been a wonderful tool to help several children I am working with that are having behavioral issues with aggression and anger. One client refuses to discuss his feelings without them! It has really helped them come a long way in learning to identify their own emotions as well as relate better to others emotions as well.
I have also been using them with families as a game to aid in increased communication. I will have the kids make assumptions on how their parent felt about a situation (and vice versa) and then allow them to check in to see if their assumptions were correct. Most of the time the assumption was wrong. for example: “Mom was not angry at you, she was scared because she thought you would get hurt.” It has been an incredible tool in opening the lines of communication with families that would normally not have the language to do so.
I will continue to send things your way as we use them more and more. They have become a staple therapeutic tool at Stillwater Family Therapy!

Joan M. Pagan, MA, MFTI

I love the Feeling Blocks!! I keep them in a basket accessible to the students – sometimes they just like to squeeze them for the tactile experience. One of my favorite activities is playing “Feelings Toss” – the kids sit at their desks and toss the block to a classmate – they have to make faces or say what the feeling is….It’s a great way to get kids with autism who don’t normally have joint emotional experiences to talk about their feelings…Some of the more verbal, higher functioning students like to explore all of the different words to describe feelings. What is great about the blocks is they can be experienced at so many levels – from the simplest to much more complex….I have used them with kids from pre-school age to my current middle school class. Thank you so much, Mary Ann, for this wonderful educational tool.

Caren Stiffel, M.A.
Autism Special Day Class Teacher

“Thank you so much for your wonderful Feeling Blocks. One of my little 3 1/2 year old clients actually asked for them! Her mom had told her they were coming to me to talk about her feelings, and I introduced the basic one to her right away, perfect for her tender age. The following week we played with other toys, but she told her mom disappointedly afterwards that we didn’t talk about feelings cause I didn’t bring out the “blocks”. Trust me, the next week I made sure the Feeling Blocks were out! I hope all therapists get to experience the Feeling Blocks.”
Charlotte Reznick PhD

Here are some examples of how I use the Feeling Blocks.

I was using them yesterday with two sisters, ages 10 and 12. Custody case. Their aunt has had custody of the girls for the past seven years. the girls have an extremely close bond with her. Dad decides he wants custody. They have no bond with him. The girls will likely be interviewed by the judge at some point and the 12 y/o feels guilt because she doesnt want to talk bad about her dad. We used the feeling blocks as a way for her to identify and express her feelings and to focus on her feelings about her dad rather than thinking she is saying bad things about her dad.This is helping her to put everything into perspective and helping her to protect herself from her father and not feel guilt about it. The younger girl asked lots of questions about the meanings of some of the words as she was able to connect these feelings to situations that her father has subjected her to. I found the blocks to be extremely helpful and theraputic in helping clarify feelings and emotions and prepare them for court.

Second case. 52 y/o woman, early stages of dementia. Recent placement to personal care home. Adjustment issues and difficulty with a caregiver in the pch. She was having difficulty identifying her feelings with words. Using the feeling blocks helped her to express those feelings and we were able to use them in role play to help her express her thoughts appropriately and assertively. As a result, she and the caregiver have developed a healthier relationship and the caregiver actually takes her places to visit, ie a store, restaurant or just for a ride so that she has a chance to get outside the pch. As a result, she feels some improvement in the quality of her life.

I think the blocks are an excellent tool. I love the design, the color coordination.  One of the other therapists is also using them with her child clients. I wasnt sure how I would apply it to the adults, but it worked!! You should be so proud!!! Your tool is helping from coast to coast!!!

Jamie Snowden

As a mother and a teacher, I have been able to experience the benefits of the Feeling Blocks at home and work. The Feeling Blocks are a useful tool in helping children learn to identify feelings and how to express them using I messages. A critical aspect of growing up is being able to take ownership of your feelings and articulate to them in a constructive manner. Again, the Feeling Blocks are an excellent way to teach these essential life skills.

Carrie Schat

This communication tool disguised as a toy exposed me to an emotional vocabulary at an early age.  As I matured, sharing my feelings was not painful, it was more like second nature. Now as a young woman, I am confident in the ways I express myself…through words, singing, dancing, art, whatever it may be, I am comfortable and at peace with myself thanks to the Feeling Blocks.

Daytona Raine  Age 28

Helped create the Feeling Blocks at age 6

I can honestly say that by being introduced to and interacting with the Feeling Blocks from the age of 7 years old has shaped and enriched the person I am today as a 28 year old woman. Firstly, the Feeling Blocks provided me with the awareness and understanding of feelings. Feelings are often times ignored or misunderstood which undoubtedly can be explained by one’s lack of communication of these feelings.

Simply, the Feeling Blocks addresses this issue. As the shy young girl I was, the thought of communicating my feelings, whether they be considered positive or negative feelings terrified me. When the Feeling Blocks were pulled out and put into use, I literally used to run and cry. Yet after being continually exposed to the Feeling Blocks and using them and watching others use them, this fear of confronting my feelings disappeared. I have gained such valuable communication skills, which not only have helped me through family relationships, friendships, work relationships, but also a personal relationship with myself too. Just one more thought to illustrate how the Feeling Blocks work… the Feeling Blocks visually and emotionally provide a sense of comfort and accomplishment as often times you can see the dark, negative colored feelings transform into warm, positive colored feelings.

Amy Rose Reeves age 28

Started using Feeling Blocks at age 7