The Evolution of Play: Using Minecraft to overcome inequities in accessing behavioral healthcare during a pandemic and enhancing the tele-health experience for vulnerable populations The field of behavioral healthcare demonstrated the ability to pivot to providing services remotely or via remote healthcare with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic. Although this allowed many to continue to access and receive services, this shift created and exacerbated inequities that have challenged vulnerable populations in receiving support. One of the vulnerable populations that was impacted by this shift is children and youth. Engaging youth in mental health treatment has often utilized various experiential approaches. As we moved towards remote healthcare many of these techniques have become difficult to access. Therapists lost the use of traditional play therapy toys, interventions, and sand trays. Drawing upon the work of Carl Rogers and the humanistic approaches, we identified Minecraft as means to “meet people where they are at”. Minecraft is a platform that is very accessible and already available. Minecraft uses flexible software that has enabled us to utilize play techniques in a safe and secure manner. We have found that even through Avatars we are able to create real connections and a sense of community. Minecraft has become a way to collaborate, learn to manage difficult emotions, and feel a sense of belonging. We, as therapists, have helped the people we serve navigate through a journey toward connectedness and growth that in turn become buffers against mental distress. Minecraft can also allow therapists struggling to reconnect to their skillset. Remote play can help increase therapeutic capacity, utilize experiential therapy modalities, and buffer from burnout brought on by the pandemic. In our proposed presentation, we will discuss how utilizing remote play tools such as Minecraft can help address mental health concerns that were exacerbated by the pandemic. We will address how we utilize already established technology to enhance the remote healthcare experience. We will discuss strategies to implement already established treatment modalities using a digital platform. We will discuss challenges and how to overcome lack of digital fluency. We will share instructions on how to start using these tools to further enhance care for vulnerable isolated populations.
- Learn how to apply therapeutic experiential approaches using Minecraft as a platform
- Identify current accessible tools such as Minecraft to reach diverse vulnerable populations
- Learn how to start the process to utilize the tools that may enhance care for vulnerable isolated populations.