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University of Zurich offers the first children's computer game for cognitive-behavioral therapy

"Treasure Hunt", developed at the University of Zurich, is the world's first children's computer game for cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is made available free of charge to specialists for the therapy of children aged 9 to 13. The computer game is available in German, English and Dutch.

"Treasure Hunt", the computer game for cognitive-behavioral therapy, was developed by Veronika Brezinka at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Zurich. "We want this game to support psychotherapists in their work with children aged 9 to 13", says Veronika Brezinka.

The game can be used in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxious or depressive children, but also for those with aggressive behavior. "Treasure hunt is not, however, a self-help game, and it doesn't replace the work of a psychotherapist", explains Brezinka. Psychotherapeutic computer games without accompanying psychotherapy cannot cure any disorders in children. That is why "Treasure Hunt" is only made available to specialists who have to legitimize themselves. The University of Zurich offers the therapeutic computer game free of charge in order to quickly spread this innovative form of support in psychotherapy. It hopes to be able to finance the website and further development by means of donations.

The game itself takes place on an old galleon. The child helps the captain to decipher a treasure map. To do that, the child has to solve a number of puzzles on the ship. If all the puzzles in a thematic group are solved, the child wins a starfish which it can place on the treasure map. The map then becomes readable, and the child and the captain receive further hints about where to search for the treasure. When all the problems have been solved, the child receives a certificate which should be signed by the therapist. Not more than one level should be processed in a treatment session, each level taking a maximum of 20 minutes.

The psychologist Veronika Brezinka expects that children in therapy will be more motivated if they can solve the puzzles in a computer game. In addition, the search for treasure can help the therapist to plan and structure the session.

Dr. Dr. Veronika Brezinka, Psychopathology of Childhood and Adolescent Age, University of Zurich
Tel. +41 43 556 40 12

Beat Müller | idw
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