Testimonial From a School Counseling Professor

March 20, 2002

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to support the use of Branch Out in schools as a way to enhance the academic and social-emotional education of students. The learning that occurs for students and faculty alike is directly related to Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR). Players become keen observers of others, listen carefully to questions and responses, and think of the ways that feelings and experiences are described and shared. They become active learners about real issues based on personal experiences and relationships.

Branch Out feels and looks like play and having fun. It enriches and diversifies the way school personnel encourage students to express themselves openly and honestly. When students read and answer questions about home life, school, their interests and abilities, feelings, and favorites, they discover new information about themselves and each other. While the game encourages high levels of creativity in students' thinking, teachers and counselors do not have to do a lot of preparation work to use Branch Out. All the materials needed are packed into a handy duffle bag.

Using natural metaphors and symbols of life and nurturance, Branch Out speaks clearly and profoundly to students' feelings. Research on children who act out in violence indicates that those who cannot find outlets for their feelings can become frustrated and isolated. This game brings all students together on fair and open ground. Everyone is validated and included. Regular playing of Branch Out goes well beyond a game. It becomes an active and engaging counseling session that students direct according to their needs.

In summary, it is an enjoyable and interesting way to encourage confidence, self-respect and respect for others, insight into life-shaping connections, and plans for the future.


Susanna A. Hayes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Western Washington University

What People Are Saying About Branch Out!