Games are a 21st-century cultural competency. Over half the U.S. population and up to 97% of U.S. teens play video games on a regular basis. Games play an important role in how teens socialize. Games foster connections between friends, offering a space for hanging out together, having fun, devising a strategy, and bonding over shared interests.  

For professionals who provide mental health services, the likelihood of seeing clients for whom games matter is substantial. Because of the volume of games released each year and the speed at which players move from one game to another, awareness and understanding of contemporary and relevant games is challenging in general. This is especially true for professionals who provide therapeutic services to teens.

The iThrive Games Clinicians Guides are an educational resource for mental health professionals who understand that embracing a teen’s passion for games is an opportunity to enhance the therapeutic process.

“I have found iThrive’s Clinicians Guides to be useful in therapeutic practice for helping clinicians understand more about virtual worlds, the powerful and positive impact they have on us, and how to provide appropriate and culturally advantageous endeavors with their clients.” – Anthony Bean, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Working with Games and Gamers in Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide

Created by mental health professionals for mental health professionals, these one-page “cheat sheets” identify key components of specific video games including their themes, characters, and play styles that can be integrated into therapeutic settings. The goal of the guides is to give mental health providers basic information about a specific, popular video game and different ways to leverage a client’s passion for the game in the interest of therapeutic or treatment goals.

We worked with mental health professionals to create and review each of the Clinicians Guides. They have all been field tested and refined to be helpful and practical even for those unfamiliar with the games. The games selected represent some of the most popular games available today.

“Not all games are created equal! Understanding the distinguishing features of different video games is key to understanding what role it might be playing in someone’s life. iThrive’s Clinicians Guides provide the keys to unlock those answers.” Rachel Kowert, Ph.D., psychologist and author of A Parent’s Guide to Video Games

The guides are fundamentally grounded in Human-Centered ideology, the belief that a person grows and thrives when they feel valued, validated, connected to others, and understood. In today’s media landscape, competency around games is key to providing this experience.

Each guide was designed to provide a foundation for therapeutically-minded conversations with teens about games. All guides contain a brief summary of the game, highlight events or themes in the game that align with therapeutic framing, a list of questions to spark discussion and reflect genuine interest in the person and their game of choice, and a case example of how the game or game content was used in an actual therapeutic setting. Although not every provider has the resources — time, financial, tech-savviness — to have games and game consoles in their office, there is immense clinical and therapeutic value in being able to just talk with someone about the games that are meaningful to them.

“While video games are ubiquitous, not everyone is a gamer. These guides provide succinct, useful summaries for teachers, clinicians, and caregivers to better understand the completeness of what goes on in various games. And, of course, better understanding helps with better communication with those we care about!” Raffael Boccamazzo, PsyD, psychologist and Clinical Director of Take This

What do you think? We invite you to:

  1. Use our Clinicians Guides.
  2. Let us how they worked for you and/or if they can be improved.
  3. Share with us your game recommendations for our next set of guides.

Collaborate with us! Email us to find out how.

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