In my private practice and school counseling position, the use of magic has had a tremendous positive impact on my clients. It helps me build trust and rapport with children quickly and often serves as a great ice breaker when working with groups.

Magic can be used metaphorically to teach about change, growth and life skills. Magic is a great positive reinforcement for good behavior. It is also a useful diagnostic tool, particularly for depression.

In general, kids are naturally drawn to the power of well done magical illusions, and this attraction can help us capitalize on potential therapeutic gains.

The utilization of magic to help children improve their social skills also has great potential. This may be because learning and performing magic are 100% social activities - you must interact with others. With the judicious use of magic, you will see plenty of therapeutic gain and you do not require much magical know how.

I have created a social skills program simply called the Magic Club. It involves six to eight group members in fourth grade or older who receive training in age-appropriate tricks and then perform those tricks for an audience. In six highly positive and supportive group sessions, they also learn and practice assertiveness skills; this includes role-playing social situations that can arise in the course of doing magic with peers. For example, how do you handle someone who disrupts you when you are doing a magic presentation? What do you say to a good friend who has given away the secret to your best magic trick?

In my Magic Club, I've repeatedly enjoyed a high degree of teamwork, cooperation and overall great attitudes. The group members arrive early and can't wait to learn the skill of magic! The knowledge that they will receive a new magic skill serves as good incentive to "hang in there" for some serious focus on oral presentations and assertiveness exercises.

I introduce each new trick and its script in front of the group and clearly model the skills of presentation, like face the audience, scan, speak loudly and clearly.

The group members then break into pairs and practice informally on their own. I provide individual instruction as needed, allow plenty of time, and promote a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere where everyone succeeds. For some of the group members, this is a welcome contrast to their prior peer group experiences.

After learning the presentation skills and magic trick rehearsal, individual members take turns performing for the group. I position myself in the back of the room and play the role of coach. It is very helpful for performers to have the script or routine on a flip chart.

When the presentation is finished, cheering and applause are encouraged. Supportive performance feedback is given by the group leader and members.

It is quite useful and enjoyable to have group members share their performance experiences as well as any experiences they have had outside of the group where they have practiced assertiveness. It is important that students get a chance to talk about their successes and frustrations in performing magic and interacting with others.

Students who struggle with shyness, friendship difficulties and assertiveness are will suited for this group.

The hoped for outcome of the group session is that the students experience an increase in self-esteem and confidence as well as mastery of an interactive skill.

An important requirement for starting this group is to become familiar enough with children's magic that you can teach it. This is not hard! it will take only an hour or two of practice.


Interested in the curriculum for
starting your own Magic Club
for social skills improvement?