Dear Dr. Geek:
How do you work with video gamers? I have read you work with them in "Immersive Experiences," but do not know what this means. Can you try to explain this a little more? I am a therapist who does not follow the traditional addiction model and am looking for a new way in which to address video gamers' difficulties.
Dear Interested Therapist,
You are correct that I work with video gamers in therapy based upon their immersive experiences due to the importance of playing video games in our lives. I will try to explain it to a point, but am currently writing a book about it and will try to stick to the basics so the publisher doesn't get irritated.
When gamers come to me it is usually because they think they have something wrong with them or their parents believe that something is wrong with them as you can read from my other posts here. However, that is not the case at all. The video game worlds bring us new and expansive virtual worlds that we can play in. These experiences are just as important as the ones which occur outside of the virtual space. Just because they happen in video game does not make them less important.
When they come in, I first work with them to see what games they are playing and what the commonalities are. Every video gamer is different and therefore requires a separate assessment in order to really hone in on what is going on. I then look to see what archetype they appear to be playing as/being held by - for more information on this area I would suggest reading Jung or Hillman. After deciphering what the commonalities are, we begin to work on what ideas, commonalities, and virtual spaces are similar to their real lives. This is where the important work has to be done because the game itself teaches us many things not just about how or what we play, but who we are. We symbolically play as characters represented as ourselves to a degree and these need to be teased out to a degree. Afterwards, we then place similarly found concepts within the game onto their "real life" world and really make serious and important connections. They tend to take off from there and really work well using these ideas and basic principles.
Most video gamers come into the therapy room with depression or anxiety and are coping with it through their avatar experiences, but do not confuse this with addiction. They are merely being highly engaged with the material or avatar being played as. I hope I was able to answer your question, if not then be on the lookout for my book which will come out either late this year or early next year.
If you have a question for Dr. Geek, you can send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Anthony Bean is a Licensed Psychologist in Fort Worth, Texas specializing in video games, therapy, geekiness, and virtual worlds. He is considered an expert in this growing field and has been published extensively in the discipline. At Bean Psychological Services, he works with children, adolescents, and adults who play video games and their families to better understand the immersive effects video games have upon the individual and resulting family dynamics. He is active and available on Twitter as @videogamedoc.
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Dr. Anthony Bean is a Licensed Psychologist in Fort Worth, Texas specializing in video games, therapy, geekiness, and virtual worlds.