Table of contents
What is the story of Treasure Hunt?
Treasure Hunt takes place aboard an old ship inhabited by Captain Jones, Felix the ship’s cat and Polly the ship’s parrot. Captain Jones needs the help of a child to solve the mystery of an old treasure map. In order to reveal the mystery of the treasure map, the child has to solve several tasks on the ship. For each completed task, it receives a starfish that can be placed on the treasure map. Polly the ship’s parrot embodies the help-menu.
How can Treasure Hunt be used in psychotherapy?
Treasure Hunt is an interactive adventure game with six levels. Each of the six levels corresponds to a certain step in cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), based on CBT-treatment programs for children such as “Coping Cat” (Kendall 1990), “Friends for Children” (Barrett 2000), “Keeping your cool” (Nelson and Finch 1996) and “Think good – feel good” (Stallard 2003). Treasure Hunt covers the following issues: our personality is made up of three parts – thoughts, feelings and behavior (Level 1); thoughts influence our feelings (Level 2); by looking at the facial expression and body language of other people, we can imagine their feelings (Level 3); we can distinguish between helpful and unhelpful thoughts (Level 4); we can chase away unhelpful thoughts and replace them with helpful ones (Level 5); a review of all previous exercises and the printing of a sailor’s certificate (Level 6). The maximum amount of time needed for one level is about twenty minutes. Not more than one level should be played per therapy session.
Can Treasure Hunt replace psychotherapeutic treatment?
The use of therapeutic video games alone without accompanying psychotherapy does not alleviate or cure childhood disorders. Moreover, psychotherapeutic games will only reach their maximum potential when played with the guidance of a therapist, who can explain and comment on the concepts introduced in the game. There will never be a “magic” game that cures a child’s problems on its own.
For which disorders is Treasure Hunt indicated?
The text of Treasure Hunt is deliberately based not only on treatment programs for anxious or depressed children (Kendall 1990; Barrett 2000; Stallard 2003), but also on programs for children with anger management problems or behavior disorders (Nelson and Finch 1996). The association between thoughts, feelings and behavior is as relevant for children with externalizing disorders as it is for children with internalizing disorders. Moreover, the concept of helpful and unhelpful thoughts is essential for children with aggressive behavior as well. Research on these children has shown that they tend to attribute hostile intentions quickly and as a result justify their own aggressive reaction towards peers (Lochman and Dodge 1994; Dodge and Rabiner 2004). This is covered in Treasure Hunt by unhelpful thoughts like “he only did that to trick me – that’s so typical of him”, “other children are mean to me on purpose”, and “that’s the way I am, there’s nothing I can do about it”, which can be counteracted with the helpful thoughts “perhaps he didn’t mean it like that”, “I am also not always nice to others” and “it is difficult to change, but I think I can do it” (Brezinka and Hovestadt 2007).
Of course it is a therapist’s decision for which indications and for which age group he/she will use Treasure Hunt. We have already used Treasure Hunt successfully with children younger than nine and older than 13.
Some users report using Treasure Hunt with success for other indications such as Asperger’s Syndrome, light mental handicap and small groups of two or three children playing the game together.
What is not the scope of Treasure Hunt?
Treasure Hunt is not a self-help game. 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 used in Treasure Hunt nor their relation to his/her own problems. As Treasure Hunt is a tool for professionals working with CBT, it should not be available to all children but remain reserved for therapists.
Barrett, P., Lowry-Webster H., Turner, C. (2000). Friends for Children Workbook. Bowen Hills, Australian Academic Press.
Brezinka, V. and L. Hovestadt (2007). Serious games can support psychotherapy of children and adolescents. USAB 2007, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4799. A. Holzinger. Berlin, Springer: 359-366.
Dodge, K. A. and D. L. Rabiner (2004). "Returning to roots: on social information processing and moral development." Child Development 75: 1003-1008.
Kendall, P. C. (1990). Coping Cat Workbook, Available from P.C. Kendall, Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
Lochman, J. E. and K. A. Dodge (1994). "Social-cognitive processes of severly violent, moderately aggressive, and nonaggressive boys." Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 62(2): 366-374.
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.