Video Game Counseling

Little boy playing video games while sitting on the sofa at home.

Video Game Counseling

When seeking therapy, it’s important to find a therapist who understands gaming culture and the potential positive and negative effects of gaming.   As a therapist who embraces gaming, I use my own comfort with gaming to connect with people looking for therapy for ADHD, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and academic issues.  I hope to reduce the stigma surrounding video game use and show that there may be underlying issues other than video games that are contributing to a person’s difficulties.

 Gaming can have a positive impact on mental health and provide a sense of community and social interaction. However, finding a balance between healthy gaming habits and other aspects of life is important. Therapy can be a helpful tool in finding this balance, by addressing mental health issues that lead to avoidance, sadness, anger, low motivation, etc.  There are several types of therapy that I have been trained in that can be effective for gamers, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), as well as other approaches such as CBT, MI, mindfulness-based interventions, and family therapy.

Therapy can be a valuable tool in finding this balance, and there are several types of therapy that may be helpful for gamers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), for example, can help individuals accept difficult thoughts and feelings related to their gaming habits and commit to actions that align with their values. Narrative Therapy can help individuals reframe their gaming experiences in a more positive light by focusing on the personal stories and meanings behind their gaming habits. Solution Focused Brief Therapy can help individuals identify their strengths and resources for change, and develop a plan for achieving their goals related to gaming and other aspects of their lives. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help individuals learn to manage difficult emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships, which can be helpful for gamers who struggle with addiction or social isolation.

CBT can help gamers identify negative thoughts and behaviors related to gaming and replace them with positive ones. MI is a client-centered therapy that helps individuals identify their own motivations for change. Mindfulness-based interventions can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and learn to manage them in healthier ways. Family therapy can be helpful for those to address tension or conflict within their families.

Video games have the potential to offer numerous mental health benefits when used intentionally and therapeutically. From emotional regulation and cognitive enhancement to relaxation and stress reduction, social connection, personal growth, and therapeutic applications, video games can be a valuable addition to mental health therapy. By harnessing the power of video games in a clinical setting, you can unlock new possibilities for emotional well-being, personal growth, and improved mental health outcomes.

Contrary to popular belief, video games are not just about mindless screen time; they can offer a wide range of positive mental health benefits when used intentionally and therapeutically in a clinical setting.

Video games can be a valuable addition to mental health therapy, unlocking their power to promote emotional well-being, enhance cognitive skills, and improve social connections.  

  1. Emotional Regulation: Video games can provide a safe space for emotional expression and regulation. Many video games offer immersive storylines and characters that players can relate to, allowing them to explore and process their emotions in a controlled environment. For people struggling with emotional regulation, video games can serve as a healthy outlet to manage and cope with difficult emotions, such as anger, anxiety, and sadness.

  2. Cognitive Enhancement: Video games can also enhance cognitive skills, including attention, concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making. Action-based video games, in particular, have been shown to improve cognitive functions, such as reaction time and hand-eye coordination. These cognitive benefits can be especially valuable in therapeutic settings where individuals may need to develop or restore cognitive skills impaired by mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

  3. Relaxation and Stress Reduction: Video games can serve as a form of relaxation and stress reduction. Engaging in a captivating video game can help individuals disconnect from stressors in their daily lives, providing a much-needed break and a sense of escapism. Additionally, some video games, such as meditation or relaxation-themed games, are specifically designed to promote relaxation and mindfulness, helping individuals to manage stress and anxiety in a therapeutic way.

  4. Social Connection: Video games can foster social connections, both online and offline. Multiplayer games can provide opportunities for social interaction and teamwork, which can improve social skills and build meaningful relationships. For individuals struggling with social anxiety or isolation, video games can serve as a safe and supportive platform to connect with others, form friendships, and develop social skills in a non-threatening environment.

  5. Personal Growth: Video games can also promote personal growth and self-improvement. Many games offer challenges, quests, and achievements that require players to set goals, persevere, and develop resilience. Achieving these goals can boost self-esteem, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy.

  6. Therapeutic Applications: Video games are increasingly being used in clinical settings as a complementary or adjunctive therapy for mental health conditions. For example, virtual reality (VR) games have shown promise in treating phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders. Game-based interventions have also been used to improve cognitive functions in individuals with neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease or traumatic brain injuries.

If you’re struggling with gaming-related issues and are considering therapy as a way to find balance and improve your mental health, I encourage you to take the next step and book a free consultation call with us.

During this call, you can discuss your concerns and goals and get a sense of their approach to how we  might be able to help you. It’s important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable with and who understands your unique situation. A consultation call can help you determine if a particular therapist is a good fit for you before committing to ongoing therapy sessions. Don’t hesitate to reach out and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.