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The Need for Computer Therapy

Therapy Game Alleviates Effects of Divorce on Children

The Need for Computer Therapy

By Chaya Harash, MSW
President and CEO of Zipland Interactive

As a family therapist who regularly deals with divorce cases, I often counsel troubled parents who find themselves in a state of crisis and unable to effectively communicate with their children. In addition, I find myself experiencing the pain of children of divorce, often expressed in ways ranging from withdrawal or inability to communicate, to outbursts of anger.

Parents long for accessible tools that can communicate in a language understandable to a child of divorce and which will help  these children effectively deal with divorce related issues. It was for this reason that we brought together a professional team to devise and market a computer therapy game.

Today, parents who seek help for their children, do so by way of books or various internet sites, attending individual or family therapy [1] or sending their children to a support group specialized for children of divorce [2]. Excellent measures indeed – but ones which necessitate numerous additional factors such as, openness to treatment, commitment and enough luck to “fall into the hands of” a sufficiently qualified therapist specializing in divorce. Other traditional options include seeking guidance from  a school counselor (who may or may not be skilled enough to deal with this subject); reading books on the topic [3] or completing worksheets. [4]

All these measures assume that there will be a willingness and readiness to deal with the issue directly. Unfortunately, particularly in the first stages, we find children of divorce tend to repress their feelings and avoid facing the issues directly. [5]

Earthquake in Zipland provides the means for enabling children of divorce to come to terms with their new reality in a non-threatening fashion. The computer therapy game clears the way for mutual dialogue, thereby serving as a valuable tool for therapists and parents alike.

Our guidelines for creating the game came about through examination of the research on the effects of divorce on children.

Today many studies exist on the subject, the most well known being the research of Wallerstein [6] and Hetherington[7]. Although there are crucial differences in the results of these two researchers about the long-term effects of divorce, there is no debate about the short-term effects as it relates to the children’s feelings and behavior. In this game, we address the short-term effects as they reflect a child of divorce’s experiences and the psychological tasks they must face.  For example:

  • Awareness and understanding that the parents have separated. [8]
  • Separation from parental triangulation (Bowen, 1978) in order to deal with the emotional tasks appropriate to their age, studies, friendships, sports….
  • Dealing with loss; loss of the family unit; loss of family ritual and tradition, loss of one of the parents on a regular basis, loss of completeness and sometimes loss of the feeling of being loved.
  • Dealing with anger, fears and feelings of guilt.
  • Coming to terms with and accepting the finality of separation.
    Struggling with long-term tasks related to the forming of new partnerships, development of intimacy skills and coping with separation anxiety.

It is interesting to note that divorce is considered one of the leading causes of stress.[9]

The question then arises: How can such “heavy” issues be handled by playing therapy game?

Continue reading “Introduction – Part 2 – Computer Therapy and Coping Skills”

Go back to “Earthquake in Zipland-forParents”

Earthquake in Zipland was born out from the need to deal with the effects of divorce on children.  A task force was put together to devise a computer therapy game that would help children of divorce express their feelings and stresses.

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