1st Edition

Video Games in Psychotherapy

By Robert Rice Copyright 2023
    242 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Video Games in Psychotherapy provides the reader with a practical session-by-session framework for using video games, interactive media, and gaming metaphors to help make the process of psychotherapy more engaging for today’s youth.

    Using concepts from narrative, collaborative, cognitive behavioral, and other evidenced-based approaches to psychotherapy, the book gives examples of possible therapist questions, responses, and activities involving language and concepts that are appealing to young gamers. Addressing issues with psychophysiological self-regulation, anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders, among others, this book uses multiple case examples to demonstrate each idea and is written in a way that is understandable for all mental health providers, regardless of their own familiarity with gaming. A review of over 40 popular video games with specific ideas for their use in psychotherapy is provided, allowing mental health providers to easily individualize therapy based on client goals and gaming preferences. Concepts for individual and group psychotherapy using games and interactive media, ranging from Pac Man to virtual reality, are also covered.

    Providing the reader with useful templates, worksheets, and other therapy resources, this book is a must-have for mental health providers working with children, adolescents, and transition-age youth.

    1. Why Video Games?  2. An Integrated Approach to Gaming in Psychotherapy  3. Metaphors Be With You  4. Using Video Games for Self-Regulation Training  5. Using Video Games for Anxiety Disorders  6. Autism and Video Games (and Anime)  7. Gamer Groups  8. YouTube and Let’s Plays in Psychotherapy  9. Serious Games and Games for Health  10. Virtual Reality in Psychotherapy  11. Avoiding Nature Deficit Disorder  Part 2. Video Game Directory with Ideas for Use in Psychotherapy with Young People


    Dr. Rice is an associate professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY and co-founder of MindFit Mental Health, specializing in integrating video games and interactive media into psychotherapy for young people.

    "In his new book, Video Games in Psychotherapy, Dr. Rice has created the sweet spot every clinician craves when endeavoring to try a new therapeutic approach. He has not only effectively described the theory and research informing a videogame approach to therapy but has ingeniously translated them into clinical practice in an easy to understand and practical way. The reader quickly sees how videogames and interactive media can act as a bridge to understanding the mental health challenges and emotional needs of youth. And more importantly, how they allow the therapist to collaborate on developing a plan of care using language, meanings, and actions that are familiar to the young client. Dr. Rice provides the practical tools necessary when embarking on a new therapeutic course of action and includes case examples that bring alive the information and guidance he shares. By the end of this read, the non-gamer clinician will feel emboldened to try this innovative virtual way of engaging, understanding and empowering young people to help them overcome their mental health challenges." 

    Mary Tantillo, Ph.D., author of  "Understanding Teen Eating Disorders: Warning Signs, Treatment Options, and Stories of Courage"

    "Although there are too many "how to" books on the market today, there are very few that balance theory and practice coherently. This book provides both a contemporary theoretical foundation based in a narrative understanding of human behavior (as old as cave drawings) and specific techniques to match the interests of today’s youth and facilitate change. Any practicing child/family therapist knows that video gaming is the predominant, sometimes obsessive, focus of today’s youth. This book provides a coherent and meaningful integration of theory and therapeutic action via generous case studies which makes it indispensable for frontline therapists working with youth. Fortunately for the reader, Dr. Rice is a natural born story teller, so his writing is engaging and digestible – just the way video games are to youth."

    Gene McCabe, Psy.D.

    "I first met Dr. Rice over a decade ago, when he dropped by RIT to look for potential mentors in the design and production of video games and the field of "serious games." This book shows Dr. Rice to be a leader in the therapeutic use of video games as a common ground, and rich field of metaphors to be mined, in therapy for youth and young adults. By using the tropes, stories, challenges and rewards experienced by the characters in video games, Rice’s approach truly makes them avatars for the players, his clients. A clinician following Rice’s approach doesn’t have to be a scholar of video games to use these methods effectively."


    Professor Stephen Jacobs, School of Interactive Games and Media, Rochester Institute of Technology. Scholar-in-Residence, The Strong National Museum of Play


    "The chapter on how to use videogames in therapy with individuals with ASD is clever, practical and should be required reading for behavioral health clinicians who work with youth with ASD! The marriage of "music therapy" with conventional therapy by thinking with a client about the music in the video game is a stroke of genius! Dr. Rice cleverly weaves understanding of autism and the relationship of youth with ASD and their gaming to create a rich array of therapeutic strategies that are novel, effective, and based in our current understanding of neuroscience."

    Susan L Hyman, MD. Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Golisano Children’s Hospital, University of Rochester