St. Luke’s Therapist Uses “Geek Therapy” to Treat Children and Teens
St. Luke’s therapist Jason Frei uses his inner geek to connect with his young patients.
Jason is certified in a type of innovative therapy called geek therapy, which refers to video games, comics, hero shows, and cartoons, to encourage interaction and build confidence. One of his ideas was accepted for a recently produced Geek Therapy card game used by behavioral health professionals, teachers and parents to improve communication with children and adolescents.
Frei is St. Luke’s Clinical Coordinator for School Behavioral Health (YESS!), And has spent about a year getting certified in Geek Therapy. But he has been using subjects considered by many to be “geek” for about 25 years.
Describing himself as a “100% geek,” Jason has been interested in fantasy and science fiction for as long as he can remember. His particular interest, or fandom, is comics. Although they have become more common recently due to the popularity of Marvel and DC Comics movies and TV shows, for many years the comics have been a haven for children who have been chosen by their peers. . They identified with the heroes, many of whom had difficult lives, were bullied, or were strangers.
Jason talks about characters and stories to engage his patients and help them become aware of their own emotions and practice self-control. For example, his suggestion that was accepted for the card game designed by Geek Therapeutics – the organization that provides certification for Geek Therapy – says:
Many superheroes wear armor to protect themselves from different attacks. If you were a superhero, what would your armor protect you from? And explain how that would repel these attacks?
Using the cards, Jason allows patients to examine the concept and think about how they might react in a stressful situation.
He shared an example of how it can work.
During a recent therapy session, a patient, who often feels bullied, told Jason he was playing a board game with his family when he got angry because his sister harassed him and called him a loser. Normally, the teenager would have turned the painting upside down. This time, however, he went to his bedroom and considered putting on that armor and seeing his sister’s words bounce off the breastplate. This calmed him down, allowing him to return to the game.
âHe said to his sister, ‘Your words have no effect on me. Let’s finish the game and I’ll show you who the loser is. He won the game, but more importantly, he got his anger under control, âsays Jason.
The cards, available on Amazon.com for around $ 20 a set, contain teachings, ideas for contemplation, and exercises. It is suggested to use them as conversation starters, as topics for discussion, and as a way to get points across and change thought patterns. The cards are separated according to the following topics:
- Video games
- Movies / Television
- Pop culture
- Super hero
- Self-care subjects rooted in geek culture.
Geek therapy allows children to relate to their therapist in a non-threatening way and teaches them skills that they have already seen playing in the video games, movies and TV shows they watch. One of Jason’s favorite characters is the Incredible Hulk, he says, because anger is an emotion we all understand. When Dr. Bruce Banner gets angry, he becomes his alter ego. As the Hulk, he destroys everything around him, including his connections and friends. When he becomes Dr. Banner again, he must deal with the consequences of his anger, just as Jason’s patients do. In the Avengers movies, Hulk appears as one of the strongest characters by bringing his intelligence and raw strength together, and is helped by another character, Black Widow, who shows him kindness.
The cards are not only intended for professionals, but are also useful for parents, says Frei. When dealing with children and teens, he advises parents to find out what their children like and then allow them to be the teacher about it.
âIf your kids play video games, have them teach you how to play and play with them,â he says. âWhen you play, they’re going to open up to you a lot more. This will expand the communication you have. Most of the kids I talk to say their parents don’t understand them. Take the time to connect with your children at their level. It will make your relationship so much better.
St. Luke’s University Health Network offers YESS! School-based therapy program in many area school districts. YES ! means “Your sustained emotional strength!” Parents should speak to their child’s guidance counselor for more information on this. School officials who want to know more about YESS! The School-Based Therapy Program should contact the St. Luke Practice Administrator at 484-822-5712.
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with the St. Luke’s University Health Network.