The Game of Life: Using Video Games and Board Games in Therapy

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Games give us a ‘test environment’ for practicing strategies we learn in therapy. Using games, whatever the format, clients are afforded the opportunity to try out real-world life skills without the pressure of negative consequences. Games allow for experiential learning - about ourselves and the world around us. Games can act as a bridge between the therapist and the client, enhancing the therapeutic process and relationship. In spite of all these benefits, games can get a bad rap. This is illustrated in the inherently negative connotations of phrases like “quit playing games with me,” “this isn’t a game” and references to “cheating” and being “a player” in relationships. This training seeks to reframe those negative judgments about gaming, highlight the benefits of using games of all formats (board, card, video, physical) and engage mental health professionals in appreciating what gaming has to offer therapeutically.

1 Explain the therapeutic benefits of incorporating board games within therapy sessions with children, adolescents and adults. Identify strategies for incorporating board games into therapy practice. 2 Discuss the therapeutic use of video games, and describe specific strategies for the role video game play can have within the client’s emotional and mental health goals. 3 Demonstrate at least 6 therapeutic interventions involving games.

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Christina Scott MEd, LPCC-S, RPT (she/her)

Mental health therapist and aspiring vampire slayer, Christina infuses pop culture into her daily clinical practice.

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