Telehealth and Kids, Volume 11: Roblox

Every time I think I have run out of topics for this series, something else comes to me!

Don’t mind me, I’m just living my best life with Zoom backgrounds and filters!

A big part of therapy with kids is sharing in the child’s interests. Yes, we want to work on making good choices, modifying behavior, and developing appropriate coping and communication skills, but none of that can happen unless I’m able to connect with the child. And the fastest way to connect with anyone is to share in their interests.

When I was doing primarily in-person sessions, many of my clients would talk to me about a game, Roblox. I have never played this game myself, but thanks to my clients, I know a lot about it. A big part of the appeal for many players is that the game allows you to create your own character and home, and you can customize these things as much as you want. There are default options to choose from, but you can be as specific as you would like and can create a world to your exact specifications.

Can you tell where I’m going with this?

I’ve done many guided visualization exercises over the years that involve creating a space that is calm or happy for my clients. Roblox lets us do the same thing in a more literal sense. Since customizing the world can be time-consuming, I typically have the child show me a world that they already created.

As the child shows me the living space they set up, I ask questions like:

  1. What was most important to you when you created this space?
  2. How do you feel when your character spends time here?
  3. Which items are your favorites, and why?
  4. What would you do if you were in this space for real?
  5. What does it smell like here?
  6. Was there anything you chose not to include?

Similarly, I ask the child to introduce me to their character, whose appearance they can customize completely if they choose.

  1. Tell me about your character.
  2. In what ways is the character like you?
  3. In what ways is the character different from you?
  4. In what ways do you wish you were more like your character?
  5. As you created your character, what was it important to you to include?
  6. Was there anything you chose not to include?

I should note, it’s helpful to let a parent know you are using this intervention as well as the rationale behind it. Otherwise, you will get phone calls and emails asking why the child was playing video games in their session. You could do a similar intervention with games like Minecraft, but the point is to help the child create a space that is just for them and help them be mindful of what they like about the space. Talking about their character can also help with building self-esteem and setting goals.

What unconventional interventions have you used with telehealth?

Published by Amy Marschall, Psy.D.

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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