Written by: Nicole Filiberti, MSW, LCSW
What comes to mind when you first think of the word "games"? Board games? Perhaps hopscotch or duck duck goose? For some, video games are the first to pop up in one's head. What if I told you that games are more than just a way to entertain yourself and pass some time, or a recreational activity that can be enjoyable for some people? Games can actually be very beneficial in the mental health world and here are some reasons for that.
1. Games can enhance social skills
When working with those who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum and other developmental delays, games provide a fun and engaging way to strengthen social skills. Critical life skills such as turn taking, impulse control, and compromise are all skills to be utilized during game play. There are many teachable moments that can occur through game play. Processing the social implications of cheating in a game or inappropriately reacting to a loss can be impactful moments that are sparked through games.
2. Games provide a device-free opportunity for families to connect
Arranging special time and making it a priority for families to play games together can significantly enhance family communication skills and aide in strengthening challenged relationships between family members. Families who are in therapy can practice any techniques that were addressed in session while enjoying family game time. This relaxed environment provides an excellent opportunity to check-in with various family members and can enhance conflict resolution skills.
3. Games can assist in establishing clinician-client rapport
There are times when establishing a therapeutic relationship with someone can be challenging. Some children may be very anxious and not willing to open up to a stranger. Some may be defiant and purposely holding out on engaging with their therapist. It can be helpful for a therapist to have various games and activities available for use in session, especially initial meetings. Playing a familiar game can be comforting for an anxious child or teenager and may help them feel more relaxed, ready to open up and able to get more out of their sessions.
Games can be a very helpful tool for both therapists and families to use. Games come in a such a wide variety of styles and catered to different age groups, so take some time to find what works for you and your family's needs.
Photo from: Pexels
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles