When we begin our work with a client, we seek to understand them and communicate to them that we appreciate them as unique individuals. Consider the example that once during my first session with a client, he made a reference in passing reference to Blackgate (a penitentiary in the DC comic book universe). I understood this and when I made a related reference back to him, his demeanor, which had been cautious as this was our first meeting, instantly changed as he realized I was “like” him and that I could maybe really understand him. This demonstrates the value of using shared culture in creating that relationship and connection with a client. However, what can you do as a therapist if you do not share these same interests and knowledge bases? This is where you begin your homework. Just as you would if you had a client who was of a religion you were not familiar with, you would seek to learn about it. Even simply showing interest and a willingness to learn about this group is extremely valuable. In my experience, geeks and gamers love to share about their passions and this can lead to a stronger therapeutic relationship as they know you truly are interested and listening to what they have to say.
Even as a geek and a gamer, I want to continue my homework. I want to continue to ask questions and learn about this community and their identity so that I can better serve them. Our hope at PAX 2015 is to gather information, engage with the community, and then share this with the public and mental health professionals to support geek and gamer wellness.
Any thoughts about the value of understanding the geek and gamer culture or ideas on specific areas we should focus on in our research? Please comment below and check back to the blog for more information about our upcoming PAX appearance.
Full quote from Jane McGonigal referenced in today's blog title:
"For most people, an hour a day playing our favorite games will power up our ability to engage whole-heartedly with difficult challenges, strengthen our relationships with the people we care about most - while still letting us notice when it's time to stop playing in virtual worlds and bring our gamer strengths back to real life."