Do you work with traumatized clients? Do you want to be able to create safety with your clients? With Stephen Porges you’ll learn what polyvagal theory is and with that knowledge learn how to engage with traumatized clients by integrating non-verbal behavior into your sessions.
Wonder if Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man ever needed couples therapy? What might a family therapist say about the sibling rivalry of the Super Mario Bros? It’s time to get serious about gaming, because some suggest that video games and psychotherapy fit together like a well-placed Tetris block.
Surveys suggest that between 95 and 97 percent of American teenagers have played video games at some point in the recent past, and most of them play games on a regular basis. Adolescents aren’t the only ones gaming, however. More than 50 percent of adults play video games, too, whether they’re launching Angry Birds on their phones or questing in multiplayer online universes like World of Warcraft.
“They’re a part of our patients’ lives,” says Mike Langlois, a clinical social worker in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and author of the eBook Reset: Video Games & Psychotherapy. “Anything that much of the population is doing is something that psychotherapists need to know about.”
Unlike the arcade games of the past, modern video games offer an immersive social experience that therapists can use to build relationships with young clients. Forget about the dusty old board games like checkers and Parcheesi! “If I’m doing play therapy with adolescents in the 21st century,” Langlois says, “I should be playing the games of adolescents in the 21st century.”
More and more, gaming consoles are making their way out of parents’ basements and into our offices. “As I’ve learned in my child and adolescent psychiatry practice, the focus should be not only on what kids play, but also, perhaps more so, on how they play,” writes psychiatrist T. Atilla Ceranoglu in an editorial for the Boston Globe. Ceranoglu’s research on the use of video games in psychotherapy suggests that by playing video games with their patients, psychotherapists can build relationships with their gamer clients. In the process, they can learn valuable information about frustration tolerance, creative problem-solving, competition, and collaboration.
Even if you don’t have an Xbox set up in your office, it’s important to be aware of and sensitive to gaming-related issues, says Langlois, who brands his clinical practice as “gamer-affirmative.” By talking to everyone from adolescents to active-duty military veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan about their gaming experiences, Langlois says he started to hear stories about how people used video game communities to get help when they were depressed or even suicidal. “It was very different than the media hype I was hearing about how video games are all addictive and cause isolation.”
Now researchers and practitioners are starting to catch on to the power-up potential of video games for clinical practice. Research studies have found that playing video games improves pain management during medical procedures, while some specially designed psychoeducational video games have been used to increase treatment adherence in managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and sickle-cell anemia. Businesses such as San Diego–based SmartBrain Technologies and Atlanta-based Virtually Better are headed by psychologists to develop, test, and use special therapeutic video game programs for everything from brain injuries to AD/HD and panic disorder. Even major commercial entities like Nintendo’s Wii gaming system and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect platform are marketing games to improve physical activity and mental coordination.
Meanwhile, if you want to improve your own gamer-practice competence, try video gaming yourself. “I don’t think you need to play every single game, but you do need to be willing to have the experience of playing a game and learning to play,” says Langlois. He’s started a class on social work and technology in which one session requires students to attend in the online environment of World of Warcraft. Some students new to the game environment (gamers might call them newbies or noobs) find themselves fumbling around and frustrated as they learn the intricacies of navigating a new world. “I tell them to pay attention to that, because that’s exactly how their patients feel. For them, life is as difficult to negotiate as learning how to navigate this video game is for you.”
Video Games:Review of General Psychology 14, no. 2 (June 2010): 141-46; http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/07/05/video_games_can_be_healthy/.
As a therapist are you looking to expand your knowledge of the brain in therapy? With Norman Doidge you’ll learn what neuroplasticity is, how thoughts change the brain, and what the plasticity paradox is.
By Rich Simon We’ve all become so used to getting our needs for information and social life met online–email, videos, ipods, skype–that we sometimes forget how irreplaceable the actual experience of direct human-to-human contact really is. Although we’re as fond of the lulling pleasures of cocooning as the next couple, one evening a couple of weeks ago, my wife Jette and I did something very old-fashioned. Read more …
Welcome to “The Latest Advances in Trauma Treatment.” This series will explore the clinical implications of the latest advances from attachment, development, and neurobiological research and how to effectively apply them with clients. What’s the best way to structure treatment with trauma clients? How can therapists help clients reshape their trauma narrative? How can clinicians effectively tailor therapy to meet clients’ needs in the context of trauma? Discover the answers to these questions and much more.
In this first session with Mary Jo Barrett, the founder and director of the Center for Contextual Change, she’ll explain what she’s identified as the five essential ingredients to effective trauma work, through the lens of a structured, collaborative method of working with clients.
Discover how the stories clients tell about a trauma event shape their experience of it with Donald Meichenbaum, a founder of Cognitive Behavioral Modification and an expert in the treatment of PTSD. You’ll learn how to help clients create a more positive, “untold” story, the significance of resilience in healing, and how to help clients enhance their cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral resilience.
Learn how to help trauma clients create a “somatic narrative” with Pat Ogden, the founder and director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Discover how helping clients gain greater awareness of their bodies and creating a somatic narrative will help them work through experiences and distressing emotions that may be otherwise inaccessible to them cognitively.
Discover the relevance of trauma issues like family dynamics, poverty, and racism with Kenneth V. Hardy, the director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships. In this session, you’ll learn how to broaden your clinical frame of reference to address the sociocultural factors that can keep traumatized clients stuck.
Explore the distinctive challenges of working with dissociated clients with Christine Courtois, the cofounder of The CENTER: Post-Traumatic Disorders Program in Washington, DC. In this session, you’ll learn practical methods for helping clients with dissociative disorders move beyond their patterns of avoidance so they can process their experiences of trauma, abuse, or loss.
Discover an attachment-based approach to healing trauma founded in affective neuroscience with Diana Fosha, the developer of Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP). Learn how to build a relationship with clients as a trusted “True Other” and enlist clients in a process of dyadic affect regulation that’ll allow the client’s latent resilience to develop.
In the bonus session with Francine Shapiro, the originator of EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), she’ll show how this revolutionary treatment can be used to address challenging cases and shorten treatment time.
As a therapist do you want to increase your sense of personal and clinical possibilities? Join Michael Gelb as he teaches how to apply the principles of neuroplasticity to everyday life, how to use mind mapping techniques, and how to improve your memory skills.