Here at Naked Therapy, we don’t shy away from new and unusual therapeutic techniques. We have gone on the record to defend online therapy, blogging communities, and the many modern devices developed to aid in mental health. And now, there’s one more surprising advancement to add to the list: Video Games.
Video Games are often censured for causing teenage violence, misanthropy, and depression–yet, according to DailyRX and a recent study from the University of Auckland in New Zealand–video games can also do some good.
A new therapy computer program has been designed to help depressed teens. This “computerized cognitive behavior therapy invention” has been dubbed SPARX, an acronym for: Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, and X-factor thoughts…all qualities shared by the best therapists, human or not.
SPARX is described by DailyRX as a fantasy styled, 3-dimensional video game:
“The virtual world is full of gloomy negative automatic thoughts (GNATs) and it is up to the player to bring peace through completing a series of challenges. If SPARX does not see improvement in a player, it can prompt them to get help from a therapist”
Although the studies prove that SPARX is just as effective, if not more so, than traditional therapy I can see both positive and negative aspects to virtual therapy. First, like online therapy this technology offers a cheaper, more convenient alternative to traditional therapy. It is also more accessible to teenagers. The counseling has been disguised as entertainment, and does not require trips to the “judgmental strangers” many teens perceive therapists as.
That being said, SPARX doesn’t offer the human connection that one receives from a personal therapist. One can not underestimate the curative powers of a sympathetic ear, and an unbiased perspective. Additionally, this virtual therapy seems limited, unpersonalized and programmed on generalizations instead of the intricacies involved in each individual case of depression and other mental health issues. Perhaps SPARX is best used as a tool to supplement traditional therapy, not as an alternative or replacement.
What do you think? Would you ever try SPARX or any other form of virtual therapy? Do you think this distances our new generation even further from human connection?
The Naked Star is given to a website or article that has shown awesome bravery in expressing truth in the areas of psychology, health, sexuality and/or culture.