GFH: Games Assisting with Psychotherapy

May 26, 2010 -

While there is very limited information on the intersection of games and psychotherapy—studies are extremely few and far between, and by some accounts, only a single “game” broaches the subject—one child psychiatrist is using videogames in a different way; as an icebreaker.

Dr. T. Atilla Ceranoglu is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, in addition to running his own practice. In a session at Games for Health, Dr. Ceranoglu detailed how he makes use of videogames.

Inspired by a quote from Freud, “There is little that gives children greater pleasure than when a grown-up lets himself down to their level, renounces his oppressive superiority and plays with them as an equal,” the doctor outfitted his office with videogames. The use of games permits doctor and patient to build a therapeutic relationship, allows Ceranoglu to evaluate cognitive skills and helps to emphasize what the child might be feeling in real-life.

Ceranoglu shared the story of a 14-year old boy, who had been having troubles with his family. On the third office visit, the boy, who hadn’t said much to the doctor up until then, joined Ceranoglu for some cooperative play in a Lord of the Rings title. The boy started commenting on the gaming ability of the doctor, which began to promote communication between the two.

Eventually the boy relayed how he played games at a friend’s house, because he disliked his home environment. The two played a game of baseball, which the foreign-born doctor was not very good at, and the boy won handily. A FIFA match followed (a game which Ceranoglu excels at). The boy was getting creamed, so he started reacting in-game, getting red cards, which lead to his players being tossed from the game. In time, the boy took to practicing the game at home before finally returning to beat the doctor. This pleased Ceranoglu because the boy took something from the office home with him.

Further into treatment, the boy confided to Ceranoglu that he wished he had a brother to play games with, which led to a conversation in which the boy told the doctor about his brother dying some years earlier. The parents of the boy had never told Ceranoglu about this tragedy; they had chosen to ignore the incident as if it never happened. The boy then admitted to visiting his brother’s grave quite often, sometimes every day. From there Ceranoglu was able to further break down the walls and to administer assistance to the boy. He said that videogames made all this possible.

As far as what attributes games used in this manner should posses, Ceranoglu recommended that any games used should be brief and repeatable, contain many levels, feature an easy learning curve and portray various types of avatars. Additionally, games should contain stories relevant to a child’s conflict, should be able to be saved at any point (to avoid lengthy play sessions) and feature flexible multiplayer modes plus user-made content.

Dr. Ceranoglu said he discusses the role of games in treatment with parents beforehand, to avoid catcalls like “I’m not paying you $XX an hour to play games.” He reports that the reception of his techniques from other therapists has been “quite good.”


 
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Andrew EisenI made this video about two years ago but it's topical again. "The Effects of Gay Marriage" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcFyxiYu9I406/30/2015 - 12:12pm
black mantaA little more compact, but still not a radical re-design.06/30/2015 - 12:00pm
SuperKeegYeah, the proton pack is different in design, but similar in spirit. Its a little dirty, not pretty, but functional.06/30/2015 - 11:08am
IvresseI'm guessing it's specifically designed to be smaller. The original packs were pretty bulky looking...06/30/2015 - 11:07am
E. Zachary KnightThe proton pack is a very different design. Here is the original: http://www.gbfans.com/wiki/Proton_Pack_Part_Names06/30/2015 - 10:50am
black mantaProton pack looks essentially the same to me. Have no problem with either, BTW. :)06/30/2015 - 10:32am
Andrew EisenNot much change to the uniforms so I was surprised to see such a redesign for the proton pack. I like it though!06/30/2015 - 10:22am
Andrew EisenGhostbuster proton pack: https://twitter.com/paulfeig/status/61586646983075840006/30/2015 - 10:19am
Andrew EisenGhostbuster uniforms: https://twitter.com/paulfeig/status/61565492324668211206/30/2015 - 10:18am
Mattsworknamegamergate or any part of that movment. My biggest issues have always been more about my views on the idustry on a personal level rather then any affilication with GG.06/30/2015 - 9:50am
MattsworknameI only really every had any interest in the GG stuff when they were going in about the media and stuff and the whole "Gamers are Dead" junk. As a general rule, whatever issues I had with various groups was more my own issues, not anything specific with06/30/2015 - 9:49am
Andrew EisenI'm still trying to figure out where anyone is getting the idea violent content or lousy representation of women and minorities in video games shouldn't exist or be promoted.06/30/2015 - 9:25am
james_fudgeWell, members of GP first, members of GG second, I always say.06/30/2015 - 9:06am
black mantaConsidering it's only you and Mattsworkname that have been carrying the banner for it here, that pretty much testifies to how little influence they have. Most everyone else here couldn't care less.06/30/2015 - 8:54am
black mantaAgain GG is more like Occupy Wall Street than the Tea Party movement. They had their moment, but they fizzled out. And now exist more as a nebulous thing spouting ideas. They haven't achieved anything meaningful.06/30/2015 - 8:52am
black mantaAs sincere as your beliefs may be, the movement is still rife with bigots and misogynists.06/30/2015 - 8:51am
black mantaI'm sure you're heart's in the right place, Goth. But it doesn't excuse the behavior of GG's members towards the people they don't like.06/30/2015 - 8:50am
MattsworknameWow goth, write a novel why dont cha. Seriously I know you have a passion for this stuff, but wow, thats kinda overkill.06/30/2015 - 8:46am
james_fudgeI hereby dub this space the Mainifesto Box (tm)06/30/2015 - 8:34am
Infophile13 shouts in total by Goth in a row. I think I'm to blame here. If I'd read the Breitbart link when he'd posted it, maybe he wouldn't have felt the need to say everything here.06/30/2015 - 8:27am
 

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