Tools by Dr. Martindale

Many of these tools are designed to be used by therapists and coaches, perhaps best used in consultation with a skilled professional. Others, including card decks, games and tools are designed to be used by individuals, groups, families, or in classroom settings, providing the opportunity for open dialog, promoting insight, and fostering thought-provoking discussion.

Products for Purchase

Hands-on products & kinesthetic tools developed by Dr. Martindale available for purchase on the Products page.


The handouts are presented alphabetically, in the three categories, Good, Great, and Essential. To determine which handouts might be most helpful to your clients consult the Handout Table. The table matches handouts with various typical concerns addressed in therapy.

Several of the handouts are available in pdf format, see Feel free to print these with acknowledgement of the source.

Essential Handouts

Five Finger Communication

A mnemonic tool for recalling the essential elements of a good sending message. Each finger represents a particular part of a message. Using this tool a message can be sent with percision and boundaries.

Getting Needs Met

One of the best tools for looking at the cause of much of our unhappiness, unmet needs and poor strategies for getting those needs met. This diagram shows how needs emerge and are met or left unmet depending on the effectiveness of the strategies used to address the needs. This material is adapted from Nonviolent Communication.

Goal Sheets Client’s Therapist’s

Goal sheets offer a simple and powerful way to help the client, as well as the therapist, get clear about the intentions and process of solution-focused psychotherapy. Read my blog post about how I use goal sheets in therapy.

Mood Chart

The mood chart is a simple way to help you become objective about what is going on in your body, mind, emotions, and environment. Objectivity is the key to developing the ability to keep your life in balance.

ROLF Filter

Do you need a way to talk about keeping unhealthy beliefs out of the psyche? This ROLF filter offers a great image. Beliefs are examined to see how easily they pass through the filter of realistic, owned, life enhancing, and flexible. If they don’t pass, they may not be healthy to the system and should be challenged.

Self Observation (The Eye that Watches)

I use this with every client. It is a great image of what therapy offers, a guiding and compassionate eye that watches us walk on the planet. The eye developed in therapy is not the eye of the critic (most don’t need to develop this eye) but the eye of the highest self. This is an image of consciousness.

Great Handouts

Critic Catcher

This handout walks through the steps to take when hearing an internal criticism. It provides a way to move from self-criticism to a position of greater self-respect.

Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence

This handout offers a visual representation of what Stephen Covey discusses in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It shows the effects of focusing on our concerns verses attending to what we have the power to influence. This is a favorite handout.

Distress Tolerance Activities Handout

This is the handout that goes along with the Distress Tolerance Activity Cards. The cards are a tool for use in therapy. The client sorts the cards into piles, while the therapist marks this handout for the client. The client leaves the session with a list of activities, is seven content areas, that are personally effective in managing distress.

Five Ways to Say It

Here is a handout for helping people practice speaking their truth. It suggests practicing your voice out-loud when you are alone so you can hear how you sound. The audio feedback is helpful as you try on different ways of telling your truth.

Give Yourself a Hand

This is a wonderful handout about gratitude. It offers you a way to use your hand to remember things for which you are grateful. The handout also tells you a bit about the research that supports the value, emotionally and physically, of bringing gratitude into your life. You can use the “pick-a-finger” technique in a new way!

Gratitude Homework

Here is an opportunity to intentionally focus on gratitude. The handout gives you specific ideas of things to try to increase your appreciation of your life. It is suggested that you take on gratitude as an experiment to see what happens.

I’m Sorry vs. What I Wish I Would Have Done Differently

This handout helps clients know the difference between just apologizing and saying a more extended description of what they wish they would have done differently. The effect on the individual as well as the relationship is explored.

Letters to Yourself When You’re Depressed

This is a helpful tool for clients who struggle with depression. It is an assignment best done when they are not in the midst of a depressive period. It is a tool to build self-management and self-care.

Managing the Depression Pit

This handout offers a visual representation clients fill out in therapy of how they can manage recurring depression. Clients are guided to look at the patterns and behaviors that cause depression, the actions that may keep them stuck in the pit of depression, and the workable steps and behaviors that help them climb out of the depression pit. See my blog post about this handout.

Reflective Listening

This is an essential tool for most clients wanting to improve their intimate relationships. This handout offers a description of reflective listening and gives practice scenarios so skills can be developed.

Reflective Listening – Teens

This is the same reflective listening skills but with scenarios more appropriate to teens.

Restoration & Rejuvenation

An image of a personal cup being tapped, the reservoir of energy that needs to be identified and then piped into the cup in order to keep the personal cup from running dry.

Self Care 101

Here is a simple guide to helping clients view themselves as both the person in need and as the person responsible for meeting their needs. Playing off subpersonality concepts, the client is instructed on how to form a loving and caring relationship between their inner wise man/woman and their core needs so these two aspects of the self can work together in harmony.

Selfishness Defined

The defining selfishness chart invites clients to see the difference between being selfish and being self-respecting or self-disrespecting. Often, out of fear of being called “selfish” people may find themselves going all the way being self-disrespecting. Fill out the chart with the client or assign as homework. Help them find the descriptors for each of the terms in the various situations. Then look at the answer sheet to see if your ideas are similar to my own.

Using your VIA Scores

After you have taken the VIA test, use this handout to explore many ways with which to use your strengths in your daily life. Know which strengths are associated with happiness. Find ways to approach your challenges and conflicts using your top strengths. Look for ways to live each day from a place of strength. These ideas will help you feel empowered and courageous. See my blog post about Identifying Your Strengths.

Good Handouts

Anger Balloon

The Anger Balloon shows the origins of anger, an unmet need, and what it can grow into if it is not attended to, expressed, or relieved. This visual representation helps clients see the importance of self-advocacy to prevent anger from being released in unconscious and harmful ways.

Crisis Management

Here is a simple tool for clients when they feel overwhelmed with challenges and or a crisis in their life.

Crossing the Anxiety Eddy

Graphic representation of the challenges of dealing with anxiety. The handout gives clients an opportunity to look at the causes, sustaining forces, and actions necessary to get out of the swirl of anxiety.


Now here’s a concept directly related to self-esteem. You may not have received much encouragement but it’s not too late to start giving it to yourself. Keep a rock in your pocket and every time you notice it’s there ask yourself an encouraging question, like, “Do I like the way I’m doing my life this very moment?”, or “What’s something I notice that I’m doing better at today than yesterday?”, or “What strength or skill have I been using in the last hour?” These encouraging questions will help you build your self evaluation (aka: self-esteem).

Letter Requesting Support

When you go through times of growth and change sometimes you need a little support. Others in your life are probably willing to help you but don’t often know what to do. This letter requesting support puts you in a place of good self care by asking directly for what you want. It allows you to let others know specifically how they can assist. It may also help, if you are resistant to speak up, to know that your therapist is giving you permission and encouragement to make your requests known.

List of TTK Questions

If you are using the Things to Know Before You Say “Go” cards and are looking for a way to mark the cards you’ve explored you might be interested in the List of TTK Questions handout. This sheet will give you a check list of all the cards and a place to mark if your response to the card was positive, negative, or neutral.

Motivation to Change

Sometimes clients need to set up a little motivation for themselves in order to do the things they want to do. Here is a list of motivators, from mild to severe, that can be utilized to help change happen.

The Why Question

Clients often come to therapy thinking that if they just understood “why” they would be better. I find that the why question often causes people to chase their tails. It is a question that makes it seem like you’re working when you are really just ruminating and trying to make rational sense out of something to complex to be fully understood. This handout explains some of the dangers of the why question and invites the client to consider more movement, solution, and change focused questions.

Kinesthetic Tools

Distress Tolerance Activity Cards

This is a set of 136 cards, each identifying a different strategy for managing distress. In a therapy session, the client sorts the deck into what works, what doesn’t, and what might work for bringing calm to a stressful or painful situation. The therapist marks a Distress Tolerance Activities Handout and gives it to the client to keep as a reference. This puts a resource in the client’s hands so when distress is experienced they have a variety of identified healthy options for managing it. I have made a number of sets of these cards. They are available for purchase on the Products page.

Distorted Thinking Cards

This is a set of 15 Distortion Builders and 12 Distortion Busters for examining thoughts and beliefs. The scenario cards, included in the deck, offer benign situations in which distortions can be built. As beliefs get twisted and distorted the effect on emotional well-being can be discussed and assessed. The Buster cards offer ideas for dismantling the distorted thoughts and bringing the emotions back to a more manageable level. This is a playful way to talk about the often dry and challenging topic of distorted thinking. Learn more about the cards here. These card are available for purchase on the Products page.

Things to Know Before You Say “Go”

This kinesthetic tool for exploring relationship readiness is the most developed of the tools in my toolkit. The cards offer an engaging and playful means for examining all the issues important to consider when dating. There are 76 cards each with a different question to ask yourself before you move to the next phase as your relationship develops. This deck has been so successful it’s been made into an iPhone app, called The Questions. This product has also been expanded to include a curriculum guide, Things to Know Before You Say “Go” Activity Book, to 30 classroom or group activities.