The single most important part of the development stage of Book of Beasties (BoB) was getting the approval of someone, or in this case some people who really know what they are talking about when it comes to psychology, wellness and mental health. Particularly that of young people.
This wasn't just us getting the thumbs from someone in the know... The process involved sifting through every single aspect of the game, the guide and everything that it entails. From the wording, characters, colours, activities - to future ideas, data collection and potential impact... absolutely everything had to be run by our strict panel of psychologists.
It was a big job. But an essential one.
An expert in the psychology of wellbeing and happiness, author of 10 Keys To Happier Living - A science-based practical guide for adults, and lead author of 50 Ways to Feel Happy activity book for children aged 7-11 years.
Vanessa studied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania alongside a Dr Martin Seligman, a leader in this particular area of psychology.
For Book of Beasties we were adamant that we wanted to work with someone who understood the game's ethos, charm and delivery of its mental health, wellness and emotional guidance methods.
Which is why we were certain that Vanessa was the person for the job. With her knowledge and experience working with the charity Action for Happiness (whose patron is non other than the Dalai Lama), her approach to the psychology of positivity and an ambition to spread as much happiness as possible with her books and TED talks (as seen below).
It was important to us that the game and guide didn't become just another lesson, with directive language, force fed wellness exercises and un-engaging discussion and activities.
Vanessa understood this from the offset and guided us perfectly on how things should be phrased, how the characters should be perceived as well as tweaking the activities to make them truly useful.
Vanessa drafted in the help of Peter Harper, a consultant clinical psychologist and teacher also from Action for Happiness.
Originally from South Africa, Peter has worked with children of all ages for many years and even developed his own primary school programme, which reportedly led to an increase in the wellbeing of students and teachers who used it.
He is also the proud creator of "The Kindness Calendar", a sort of moral guide that encourages people to perform one random act of kindness every.
Peter wrote in the Huffington Post: "Our brains are hardwired to look for threats and we often make negative assumptions and fail to notice the positive things in life. I am no exception.
"Like many others, I have found that practicing kindness requires conscious effort. Starting each day with the intention of being kind has resulted in a decrease in my negative assumptions and an increase in my kind and compassionate behaviours, and made my life much more fulfilling."
Together Peter and Vanessa have been an invaluable asset to Book of Beasties and transformed it from a simple card game with good intentions, into something that could potentially really make a difference in young people's lives.
With all the big ideas, expansions, characters and ambitions we have for BoB going forward, I am sure we are going to be keeping these two wonderful people very busy.