From Virtual Worlds To Real Healing: The Benefits Of Video Game Therapy

Video Games are often considered mere entertainment and escapism from the real world. However, in recent years, the concept of using video games as a form of therapy has gained traction. From virtual worlds to natural healing, video game therapy has shown promising results in improving mental and physical health. This innovative approach to treatment utilizes the immersive and interactive nature of video games to help individuals work through their challenges and achieve a greater sense of well-being. In this article, we will explore the benefits of video game therapy and why it is worth considering as a viable therapy for those seeking healing and growth. So, let us embark on a journey to uncover the world of video game therapy and how it can help us achieve natural healing.


The use of video games in therapy has a long history, dating back to the 1970s. At the time, video games were mainly used as a recreation or distraction in therapy sessions to reduce patients’ stress levels and improve their moods. Over time, as video games evolved and became more sophisticated, therapists began recognizing their potential as therapeutic tools.

In the 1990s, researchers and therapists started exploring video games as a treatment method for various mental health conditions. Since then, video game therapy has grown in popularity, and today it is recognized as a legitimate therapeutic approach by many mental health professionals. There have been numerous studies and clinical trials that have shown the effectiveness of video game therapy in treating various mental health conditions. As a result, video game therapy is now widely accepted as a safe and effective treatment option for patients of all ages.

The Science Behind Video Game Therapy

The science behind video game therapy is rooted in the concept of neuroplasticity, which refers to the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to new experiences. When patients play video games, they are exposed to new and engaging experiences that can help rewire their brains and improve their mental and emotional well-being. Video games can also activate the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotion, providing patients with a sense of reward and satisfaction that can help reduce anxiety and depression.

How Can Video Games Help With Mental Health Conditions?

Video games can help with mental health conditions by providing patients with a safe, controlled environment where they can express themselves and work through their emotions. Video games can also help improve cognitive and emotional regulation, boost self-esteem and confidence, and foster social and communication skills. Additionally, video games can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress levels and provide patients with a sense of control and mastery over their lives.

Numerous studies have supported the effectiveness of video game therapy in treating mental health conditions. One of the most well-known studies was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, which found that video game therapy was an effective treatment for depression in children and adolescents. Other studies have shown that video game therapy can be effective in treating anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD and can also improve cognitive functioning in patients with traumatic brain injury. Overall, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of video game therapy is growing, and many mental health professionals now consider it a valuable treatment option for many mental health conditions.

Types Of Video Game Therapy

video game consulting vr counseling
  • Virtual Reality Therapy: Virtual reality therapy uses virtual environments and simulations to help patients with phobias, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Patients are placed in virtual environments replicating real-world situations, allowing them to confront and overcome their fears in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Exergaming Therapy: it uses video games incorporating physical activity, such as dancing or sports, to help improve physical health and overall well-being. This therapy can benefit patients with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that impact physical health.
  • Serious Games Therapy: Serious games therapy uses video games designed specifically for therapeutic purposes, such as games that help patients manage their emotions, develop social skills, and improve their problem-solving abilities. This therapy is often combined with other therapeutic approaches to provide a comprehensive and effective treatment program.

What Is A Video Game Therapy

Video game therapy, also known as “serious games,” uses virtual gaming environments and technology to help individuals address various mental and physical health issues. The concept of video game therapy is based on the idea that engaging in virtual world environments can be therapeutic, providing a safe and controlled space for individuals to explore their emotions and develop coping skills. The games used in video game therapy are designed to be fun and engaging but also have therapeutic goals, such as reducing anxiety, improving physical coordination, or increasing social skills. This type of therapy is becoming increasingly popular as technological advances have made virtual gaming environments more accessible and more advanced, allowing for a broader range of therapeutic applications.

Advantages Of Virtual Worlds In Therapy

The advantages of using virtual worlds in therapy include the following:

  • Lack of Stigma: Virtual world therapy allows individuals to engage in therapeutic activities in a non-threatening environment without the stigma often associated with traditional treatment.
  • Controlled Environment: Virtual environments can be controlled and customized to meet the needs of individual patients, making it easier to tailor treatment and achieve therapeutic goals.
  • Safe Space: Virtual worlds allow individuals to explore their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors without fear of judgment or consequences.
  • Real-time Feedback: Virtual worlds can provide real-time feedback, allowing individuals to see the immediate effects of their actions and decisions.
  • Improved Social Skills: Virtual environments provide a unique opportunity for individuals to practice and improve social skills, such as communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
  • Physical Rehabilitation: Virtual worlds can be used to help individuals with physical disabilities or injuries to recover their abilities and improve coordination.
  • Overcoming Phobias: Virtual environments can help individuals overcome phobias by exposing them to feared stimuli in a controlled and safe manner.
  • Improving Cognitive Function: Virtual worlds can help individuals enhance cognitive function, such as memory and attention, by providing challenging and engaging activities.


Multiracial friends playing with video games at home
Joyful black couple playing video games at home

The Benefits Of Video Game Therapy

  • Improved Mental Health: Video game therapy treats various mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. It can provide a safe and controlled environment for individuals to explore their emotions and thoughts. It can help them to develop coping skills and improve their overall mental well-being.
  • Enhanced Physical Healing: Video game therapy has also been shown to be beneficial for physical healing. For example, it can help reduce pain during medical procedures and be used as a form of physical rehabilitation for individuals with disabilities or injuries.
  • Increased Socialization: Video game therapy can help individuals to increase socialization and improve social skills, such as communication and conflict resolution. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with social interactions or have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.
  • Development of Coping Skills: Video game therapy can provide a safe and controlled environment for individuals to practice coping skills and develop resilience. This can help individuals to manage stress, anxiety, and depression better and can improve their overall mental health.
  • Improved Cognitive Function: Video game therapy can also help to improve cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and executive function. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing cognitive declines, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Limitations And Challenges

Like any therapeutic approach, video game therapy has its limitations. Some of the main limitations of video game therapy include the following:

  • Accessibility: Video game therapy requires access to video games and gaming technology, which can be expensive and unavailable to some patients.
  • Lack of standardization: There currently needs to be more standardization in video game therapy, and there are no universally accepted guidelines for how it should be used or implemented.
  • Limited research: Despite the growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of video game therapy, there is still little evidence of its long-term efficacy and impact on mental health.

In addition to the limitations of video game therapy, several challenges must be addressed to ensure its widespread acceptance and implementation:

  • Lack of training: Many mental health professionals need more training and expertise to use video game therapy in their practices effectively.
  • Stigma: There is still a stigma surrounding using video games in therapy, and some mental health professionals and patients resist this approach.
  • Regulation: There are currently no standard regulations for video game therapy, and it has yet to be widely recognized or covered by insurance.

Despite its limitations and challenges, video game therapy has the potential to be a valuable and effective treatment option for many mental health conditions. To realize this potential, it is essential to continue research and development in this field, focusing on improving access, standardizing treatment guidelines, and addressing the challenges facing its widespread acceptance and implementation. Additionally, it is essential to continue to educate mental health professionals on using video game therapy and to work to reduce the stigma surrounding this approach.

In conclusion, video game therapy offers a unique and innovative approach to treatment that has the potential to significantly benefit individuals seeking to improve their mental and physical health. Video game therapy has many benefits, from improving mental health and physical healing to increasing socialization and cognitive function. As technology advances and video game therapy becomes more widely recognized and accepted, it has the potential to become an increasingly important and mainstream treatment option for a wide range of mental and physical health conditions. 

If you’re interested in learning more about video game therapy’s benefits, contact us at 408-357-2590 or visit our website at Our team of experts will be happy to answer any questions and help you find the best therapeutic solution for your needs.