About Video Game Counseling
My name is Monet Goldman and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. I integrate a variety of evidence-based approaches in my practice, including Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Play Therapy. I also draw from my experience working as a trauma therapist for kids, teens, young adults, and their families involved in the Kindergarten-12th grade school system, Justice System, and Foster Care System. This brought me in contact with a wide age range of individuals and their families, from age 5 to 22, in school, home, and even detention facilities. My training as a therapist has helped me address a wide range of mental health issues, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, family conflict, ADHD, aggressive behaviors, substance use issues, self-harm, motivational issues, and social issues.
I appreciate working with kids, teens, adults, couples, and families struggling with navigating the difficult challenges in life. Building a stronger sense of self through personal exploration and learning to navigate through turbulent times, provide many opportunities for growth.
I take a collaborative approach to hear your specific needs and goals. In many ways, the client is the expert and I respect the unique strengths that you have. Together, we'll explore the whole picture, addressing the areas you'd like to improve while utilizing your strengths, and building new skills. With a non-judgmental approach, I humbly respect the safe and engaging environment that we can share, where healing can occur.
Video Games as an Effective Medium To Deliver Therapy
When the COVID19 pandemic started in March 2020, the schools I worked at shut down without any warning. I remember being in the hallway before the afternoon school bell rang, to beat the traffic of kids and families, listening to the school staff announce for everyone to gather their belongings, medication, and to await more instructions from the school. Needless to say, it's 2021 and we still have not begun in-person school. To adjust to the sudden change from in-person therapy to online therapy, I had to develop video game counseling to reach the kids and families I provided therapy to. Video game counseling was new, innovative, and born out of necessity. I had to connect authentically with my clients for therapy to work and deliver the same evidence-based practices as I did in person. Before the pandemic, I'd be able to do art activities, board games, sports, and simply share the same physical space with another as we talked about their struggles. During the pandemic, there was a distance and awkwardness that drove a lot of kids away. Some even shut down, canceled, and no-showed on me when all I had was a phone to communicate with. Now, with the rich and vast virtual world, I can connect over a much better channel with my clients.
In online games, there's a liberating and comforting aspect that can help people thrive. The rules-defined nature of online games can help those who feel overwhelmed or shut down in traditional in-person therapy. People come to therapy with processing differences, worry, shyness, low self-esteem, etc. that can begin to thrive when sessions are shifted online and into a video game space. Sometimes, these kids shine the brightest in my video game therapy sessions and groups, because there's a lot more safety, control, and autonomy. Giving clients that freedom can improve therapeutic dynamics and help clients express themselves more authentically.
To read more about how video games have helped my sessions with kids, read about in The Washinton Post.
Building Healthy Video Game Habits
Of course, I too have struggled to maintain that healthy balance of video games and meeting my goals. There were times when gaming took over too much of my time, keeping me from being efficient and timely in meeting my goals. This is why I took such a long break from video games, as I had to work as a therapist, MMA coach, and train for my own judo competitions. Now that I haven't been able to train and coach martial arts, I've been focusing more on counseling, leading me to have more time to play video games for my own pleasure.
In May 2020, I started up my gaming PC after a long 3-year break and had a blast playing with my friends. Video gaming was much needed, as we were all quarantined inside our homes due to COVID19 and wildfires in California.
As I stayed isolated in my home, video games offered a great bridge for my friends and me to connect over as the world around us seemed to crumble. We could ease into more vulnerable topics of conversation as we eased into the video games we were playing. Soon, what started as a noncommital invitation to play a game turned into hours-long talks about our worries, relationships, and regrets. We could cycle through the intensity of our talks, letting the lull of the conversation pass through without feelings of awkwardness, thanks to the video games we were playing. Video games were similar to what a hike in the woods would offer, just enough activity to stimulate conversation without overwhelming us.
Thankfully, I've been able to step back and reflect on healthier gaming habits, strategies to structure my days, and develop a system to keep my progress consistent rather than fleeting. Being able to integrate gaming into my schedule has helped me be more productive and energized as I prioritize my work much more efficiently.
I hope that my diverse background and professional experience as a therapist can be used to help those who may need more than what traditional talk therapy offered.
For therapists interested in learning how to integrate video games into their therapy practices,
I offer consultation services to help educate others to confidently integrate video games into their practice.