Games, Apps, & Positive Psychology – A Guide for Clinicians

Apps and Positive Psychology

One of the more exciting uses of digital media is the combination of apps and the promotion of positive psychology. Positive psychology is a psychological approach that emphasizes strengths, resilience, and positive subjective experiences. It is seen as a focus on building the best qualities of life and creating experiences in which people’s well-being, satisfaction, and happiness involve having constructive cognitions about the future and a sense of optimism and hope. Positive psychology invokes skills such as cognitive reappraisal that allow individuals to reframe negative experiences so that they learn from them and move forward. It also nurtures skills to buffer against weaknesses and stress. These skills help people to identify and nurture their strongest qualities and emphasize prevention rather than treatment. 

Digital tools have now been identified as one method to improve positive psychology traits. Apps such as Super Better, developed by Jane McGonigal, promote skills such as stress management, collaboration with others, and creation of a supportive network. Other games and apps require skills such as resilience, cognitive flexibility, and perseverance. Developing strategies to transfer or generalize these skills from game-based learning into real-world settings is now being taken on by increasing numbers of therapists and clinicians.  

The following list is a variety of games and apps that either directly or indirectly promote positive psychology traits. A brief description of the games and how they can enhance positive psychology is included.  

This award-winning video game is a quiet first-person exploration that emphasizes important SEL and positive psychology skills. Players explore the concepts of reflection, self-assessment, empathy, hope, and resilience as they explore the main character’s deserted home. Searching for clues to her missing family, she finds once-familiar rooms full of secrets. Your teen will not only love Gone Home’s mature story and interesting characters, they’ll gain a sense of responsibility and accomplishment that comes with player-driven gameplay.

Never Alone Your adolescent will appreciate a video game with the cozy familiarity of a platformer that manages to push them out of their comfort zone. With challenging gameplay and content, Never Alone manages to tell an important historical tale that translates across cultures. Created in cooperation with the indigenous Iñupiaq of Alaska, Never Alone helps your teen see beyond themselves to learn about and appreciate the resilience of a people who have endured innumerable hardships. As players progress through the game, they unlock bonus content about the Iñupiaq culture — furthering SEL and positive psychology practice with lessons in grit and empathy.

Smiling MindSmiling Mind was designed with the help of psychologists and other health professionals to help users be more mindful. A person who is mindful is completely present in the moment and operating at their full potential. Teens benefit from this app which includes meditations for all age groups, from young children to adults. Teaching a teen to step back and take perspective on themselves and things outside of themselves is invaluable SEL and positive psychology practice.

SuperBetterSuperBetter is like a video game for life, helping users achieve personal goals by allowing them to make everyday chores and responsibilities into quests and missions. Drinking more water, exercising, avoiding unhealthy foods and habits, calling a friend, writing a letter, taking a bike ride — anything a user needs to work on, they can find some outside accountability and video-game-style immediate rewards in SuperBetter. “Leveling up” as a person using SuperBetter can give kids good metacognitive and social awareness practice.

Minecraft: Story ModeWith its rampant popularity and star-studded cast, Minecraft: Story Mode is easy to view as a piece of popular culture fluff. But hidden inside this point-and-click game with hectic button-mashing events is a true-to-life lesson in consequences. The choices a player makes in Minecraft: Story Mode effect the game in many ways, giving them practice with social awareness and self-assessment. As in life, in-game conversations a player has offer them a brief period to choose responses, and the outcomes of these conversations have a lasting effect on the game. Players will find themselves asking: Did I say the right thing? Was that a little too harsh? Is that what I really want to do? This allows parents to point out that, unlike a video game, life has no reset button.

Related Posts

LW4K App Spotlight: Flora

Welcome to LearningWorks App Spotlights for Parents! This is a web series where we discuss apps that can help your child develop and practice using their different executive functioning skills. […]

6 thoughts on “Games, Apps, & Positive Psychology – A Guide for Clinicians

  1. I wanted to create you this very little observation just to say thanks once again on your pretty basics you’ve provided here. It was simply open-handed of people like you to grant publicly precisely what a number of us would’ve marketed as an e book to generate some cash for their own end, specifically now that you might have done it if you wanted. These thoughts also served like the easy way to recognize that other individuals have the same dreams just like my own to know much more in terms of this condition. I think there are some more enjoyable sessions up front for many who scan your site.

  2. But hidden inside this point-and-click game with hectic button-mashing events is a true-to-life lesson in consequences. The choices a player makes in Minecraft: Story Mode effect the game in many ways, giving them practice with social awareness and self-assessment.?

  3. There are thousands of apps that are aimed at developing skills and knowledge, but that’s not so easy to find a beneficial one. I’m sure that games can affect our brain in a very positive way, so there’s no need to forbid kids to play video games

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Create Your Free Account

All membership plans come with full access to our entire suite of tools learning guides, and resources. Here are a few of the ones we think you’ll like the most:

  • Personalized learning profiles for up to 5 children.
  • Access to our complete library of technology learning guides.
  • A personalized stream of advice, articles, and recommendations.
  • And of course, lots, lots more…

Already have an account? Login →



Don't have an account? Sign up now! →

Forgot Your Password?