Counseling Department


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


John C. Thomas

Primary Subject Area

Education, Guidance and Counseling; Psychology, Clinical


Children, Computer/Video Games, Emotional Disturbances, Play Therapy


Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of computer/video games as a play therapy tool for children suffering from an emotional disturbance of sadness (pervasive feelings of irritability, loss of enjoyment in activities previously enjoyed, withdrawal from friends or family, decline in school performance, and hopelessness). Children who suffer from emotional disturbances have problems functioning in school, in social and family settings, as well as transitioning into adulthood. Play therapy is an effective and creative way to work with children with emotional disturbances. Play becomes a way for the child to communicate and heal. Computer/video games are fun and inviting to children, and have been used in many different settings with children. To examine the effectiveness of computer/video games as a play therapy tool in treating emotional disturbances, a qualitative, collective case study design was used. Overall, the findings from the study supported the fact that children suffering from emotional disturbances encounter difficulties academically, emotionally, and socially. The findings support the literature that play therapy is effective in treating children suffering from emotional problems. Finally, the findings confirmed the usefulness of video and computer games as a play therapy tool with children suffering from the emotional disturbance of sadness.