Online games are the new therapist office

In the early In the weeks of the pandemic, Monet Goldman Sachs tried different strategies to deal with stress. “I’m exercising, I’m meditating, I’m doing yoga,” said Goldman Sachs, Licensed marriage and family therapist in Santa Clara, California. But it wasn’t until he turned to a familiar pastime: video games that he started to feel better. In the bright, immersive world of online gaming, Goldman Sachs found solace-he started having fun again. As he and his colleagues worked to establish a virtual connection with customers, he wondered if the game could also help his patients.

Goldman Sachs began training other clinicians to use online games in their work, from Rob Rox, A platform with millions of games, is especially popular with children aged 5 to 12 in the United States. In a Zoom meeting with two elementary school students, Goldman kicked off by asking the children to name their favorite Roblox game. At first, “It was like radio silence. Everyone turned off the camera,” Goldman said.Finally, a boy mentioned Brookhaven, A role-playing game with a bustling city as the background. Soon, the children enthusiastically guided each other in the play space, and their shyness was forgotten.

Like traditional play therapy that uses toys to help patients express their thoughts and feelings, online games provide another means of communication. Goldman said that for some people who are anxious about their appearance or speech, games are an opportunity to discover “different forms of voice,” whether through avatars, artwork or other digital creations. He noticed that children struggling in face-to-face therapy became active and developed more confidence in the virtual environment. “This is the greatest benefit,” he said. Today, Goldman Sachs provides counseling for children, adolescents and adults, combining play and talk therapy.

Although the reuse of video games for treatment is nothing new, clinicians’ interest in this form has increased significantly after the pandemic prompted a sudden shift to telemedicine. “A lot of therapists are terrified,” said Josué Cardona, who is Geek therapy, A non-profit organization that advocates the use of video games and other popular media. According to Cardona, in December 2019, Geek Therapy’s Facebook group had fewer than 1,000 members; now it has more than 5,400. Clinicians use online games in different ways, from joining customers on platforms such as Roblox or Minecraft to letting patients play games independently for specific treatment purposes.

How the game can help

“Video games have this way Attract attention And keep it,” this may be the first step in helping patients control painful thoughts, says Amy Durhams, Clinical psychologist and author Understanding bipolar disorderWhen working with adults with chronic mental illnesses (including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia), Durhams uses video games as a bridge to gain other coping skills. If someone is overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts during a meeting, playing video games for a while can help reduce anxiety. At that time, Durhams explained that strategies like mindfulness became more accessible to patients.

Some studies have shown that video games are as effective as other mental health interventions, and may be more effective, especially for anxiety disorders. A 2017 Research published in Preventive science Discovery game Light of mind It is as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy programs in reducing children’s anxiety.exist Another study, Prescribing a video game can reduce patient anxiety more than adding a second drug to the treatment.

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