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Treasure Hunt - a cognitive-behavioral computer game


What is Treasure Hunt?

The CBT video game Treasure Hunt was designed for nine- to 13-year-old children who are in cognitive-behavioral treatment. The game is based on concepts of cognitive behavior therapy for children as outlined in treatment programs like “Coping Cat” (Kendall 1990), “Friends for Children” (Barrett 2000), “Keeping your Cool” (Nelson and Finch 1996) and “Think good – feel good” (Stallard 2003).

For whom was Treasure Hunt developed?

Treasure Hunt was developed to support psychotherapists in their work with nine- to 13-year-old children. The game includes several applications of important cognitive-behavioral concepts that are useful for the treatment of internalizing disorders (anxiety and depression) as well as externalizing disorders. These CBT concepts can be used by the therapist not only within the game, but also elaborated on further with classic therapeutic methods like role-playing, drawing or writing. Moreover, Treasure Hunt can help to structure therapy sessions and enhance child compliance.  

How should Treasure Hunt not be used?

Treasure Hunt is not a self-help game and should be played with the guidance of a therapist. A child playing the game on his/her own will perhaps find it fun, but will probably not understand the deeper significance of the concepts nor their relation to his/her own problems. If a child who is shown the game in therapy says “Oh, that boring game! I got it from grandma last month“, the surprise-effect is gone and Treasure Hunt is likely to be less effective. It is therefore in the interest of therapists not to give away copies of the game.

Can Treasure Hunt be a substitute for psychotherapeutic treatment?

A psychotherapeutic computer game will never be able to alleviate childhood problems on its own. Therapeutic games are likely to reach their maximum potential only with the guidance of a therapist, who can explain and comment on the concepts introduced in the game. Treasure Hunt supports therapists by structuring therapy sessions and offering attractive work assignments. However, explaining and elaborating important therapeutic concepts and linking them to the specific problems of the child will remain the task of the therapist.  


Barrett, P., Lowry-Webster H., Turner, C. (2000). Friends for Children Workbook. Bowen Hills, Australian Academic Press.

Kendall, P. C. (1990). Coping Cat Workbook, Available from P.C. Kendall, Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122.

Nelson, W. M. and A. J. Finch (1996)."Keeping Your Cool": Cognitive-behavioral therapy for aggressive children: Therapist manual. Ardmore, PA, Workbook Publishing.

Stallard, P. (2003). Think good - feel good. A cognitive behaviour therapy workbook for children and young people. Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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For parents

Treasure Hunt is not a self-help game and should only be available to children who are in psychotherapeutic treatment.