Choices in Gamification of Therapy for PTSD

Choices in Gamification of Therapy for PTSD

Dan Thomsen (SIFT, LLC, USA), Jeffrey M. Rye (SIFT, LLC, USA) and Tammy Ott (SIFT, LLC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0159-6.ch055
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Effective treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) already exist in the form of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and prolonged exposure therapy (PE). However, common symptoms of PTSD, like depression and avoidance, make finding and engaging patients in these treatments difficult. We have designed SAGA, an online game to help veterans suffering from PTSD. SAGA works to illustrate and educate players about effective therapy so they can successfully engage in evidence-based treatment. SAGA allows players to create and repeatedly edit stories to illustrate how exposure therapy works. This chapter presents the game design choices made to motivate and engage players with PTSD and reports the results of a small pilot study. We also present the design of our upcoming clinical trial, which will determine SAGA's effectiveness in changing attitudes toward evidence based PTSD therapy.
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Using the definitions from Barak et al. (2009), SAGA falls into a web-based intervention that incorporates web-based education and self-guided web-based therapeutic interventions. While SAGA provides exposure exercises, it strives to keep players’ anxiety level low to illustrate the concept of exposure exercises rather than to provide therapeutic benefit. SAGA also attempts to function as a gateway to a person receiving in-person help, an approach described by Barak and Grohol (2011).

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