Using Video Games in Working With Children

Clinicians who work with kids have traditionally used board games and toys as tools to develop therapeutic relationships; engage a child in the therapeutic process; and explore dynamics of home, family, relationships, and school. Some clinicians now use video games in working with children, to develop relationships as well as board games and toys. This frequently consists of a child playing on the computer or tablet by himself and the clinician simply observing. While this strategy may encourage a child to come back and visit with the therapist, it has limited value otherwise. However, there are many other strategies for using video games, apps, and other digital media as tools to go far beyond enhancing a therapeutic relationship. Video game and app play in the therapy session is an excellent way to build skills, develop homework assignments, and explore the process of psychotherapy.

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Discover how LW4K’s parent’s guides and kids pages can help your child do better at school than they ever have before.

It is our job at LearningWorks for Kids to help you find the best games and apps to assist in your clinical work with kids. Our approach goes far beyond simply using video games for building a therapeutic relationship. Our game guides contain specific meta-cognitive and generalization strategies to enhance the effectiveness of video games as teaching tools.

Articles and research

These articles can help you understand how to use video games/apps and technology in your practice:

The Use of Electronic Games in Therapy: A Review with Clinical Implications H. Lynn Horne-Moyer, Brian H. Moyer, Drew C. Messer, and Elizabeth S. Messer (A study showing the potential benefits of using video games in therapy.)

Can Tech Improve the Mental Health of Teens (An article discussing how technology can be used to improve the mental health of teens.)

The Science of Play  (Explains how digital play can aid in child development.)

Videogames in Psychotherapy (A review of current research on video-game use and its effects in therapy.)

The Therapeutic Use of Videogames in Childhood and Adolescence (A discussion of the therapeutic benefits of video-game use.)

Video Games for the Office

These games are convienent for patients to play in the office, as they are easy to play online via phone, tablet or desktop:

Angry Birds (You will need to download this game first. Easy to play and learn for adults and requires flexibility and planning skills to master.)

Super Stacker 2  (A very easy game for adults to learn, requires self-control.)

Smarty Bubbles (Fun and easy, needs planning, foresight.)

Where’s My Water (Fun and funny. Easy for adults, requires planning and time-management skills.)

LW4K Games page (Hundreds of games, many available for your desktop.)

Featured Image Credit: Philippe Put

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