Screens in Therapy

New Zealand

How can we as therapists and professionals working with teens and children engage with our young patients' online activities? In my experience, teens and kids are at times defensive about their online activities, as they're accustomed to the grown ups in their worlds viewing these activities as problematic. As a therapist, I hope to approach clients' online activities with curiosity, as I may approach any other aspect of their worlds. For primary school aged children and pre-adolescents, I've found that the online games they play can offer a window into exploring their internal worlds. What they choose to build on Minecraft can be informative for the therapist, while they can express aggression and other forbidden impulses, even cruelty, in more violent games. Even where their engagement in violent games can be disturbing, it can also provide a window into their fantasy worlds where they can play at being all-powerful without hurting real people. For adolescents, much of their social engagements take place through social media channels, and WhatsApp groups can provide forums for all kinds of social dynamics and interchanges. Teens can also project aspects of their desired identity or experiment with ways of being through apps such as Instagram and Tik Tok.

Vanessa Hemp offers her views on how therapists can engage their young patients and use their online activities in the therapeutic context in various ways. If you'd like to view Vanessa's full CPD-accredited talk on navigating the online world, click here.


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