How Video Games Can Help Children With Depression

Depression in children is a growing concern that demands creative and effective treatment strategies. In recent years, mental health professionals have begun exploring unconventional, yet promising therapeutic tools — one of them being video games. If you’re a parent of a child grappling with depression, the idea of using video games in therapy may seem counterintuitive, given the common perception of video games as distractions or isolating activities. However, when used appropriately and professionally, video games can open up new avenues for engagement and healing.

Unmasking the Potential of Video Games in Therapy

Video games, especially ones designed with therapeutic intent, can create a safe, engaging, and controlled environment for children to navigate emotional challenges, explore their feelings, and develop coping strategies. Here’s how:

  1. Emotional Expression: Video games can provide an outlet for children to express their emotions and experiences indirectly. This is particularly beneficial for those who may struggle with traditional talk therapy.

  2. Engagement and Motivation: The interactive and immersive nature of video games can engage children in therapy, particularly those who might otherwise be reluctant or resistant to participate.

  3. Development of Coping Skills: Therapeutic video games can help children learn and practice coping skills in a safe, virtual environment. They can confront challenges, experience setbacks, and learn to persevere, enhancing their resilience.

  4. Social Connection: Multiplayer video games allow children to interact with others, fostering social skills and providing a sense of community, which can be beneficial for those feeling isolated due to depression.

Video Games and Depression: Current Research

Recent research supports the potential of video games in therapy for depression. A study by Roepke et al. (2015) found that a specially designed video game called “SPARX” was as effective as traditional therapy in adolescents with depression. Meanwhile, Russoniello et al. (2013) found that casual video games could reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How to Integrate Video Games into Your Child's Therapy

Before integrating video games into your child’s therapy, it’s crucial to consult with a mental health professional who understands the intersection of video games and therapy. They can guide you on suitable games, appropriate duration of play, and how to discuss and reflect upon the gaming experience with your child. Moreover, it’s important to remember that video games should not replace other forms of therapy but rather complement them.

How Video Game Counseling Can Help

Depression can make children feel lost, disconnected, and hopeless. However, with innovative therapeutic approaches like the use of video games in therapy, we can offer them a lifeline. These tools can make therapy engaging and relatable, providing children with a unique way to understand and manage their emotions. As parents, being open to these unconventional approaches can make a significant difference in our children’s therapeutic journey.

At Video Game Counseling we are committed to staying at the forefront of therapeutic innovation. We understand that every child is unique, and we strive to offer a range of therapeutic approaches to best serve their individual needs.


  1. Roepke, A. M., Jaffee, S. R., Riffle, O. M., McGonigal, J., Broome, R., & Maxwell, B. (2015). Randomized Controlled Trial of SuperBetter, a Smartphone-Based/Internet-Based Self-Help Tool to Reduce Depressive Symptoms. Games for health journal, 4(3), 235–246.
  2. Russoniello, C. V., Fish, M., & O’Brien, K. (2013). The efficacy of casual videogame play in reducing clinical depression: A randomized controlled study. Games for Health Journal, 2(6), 341-346. doi:10.1089/g4h.2013.0010