Innovation for Independence

Changing Stories

Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 3:08pm
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 3:08pm
Max Zadow

There is a therapeutic approach called Narrative Therapy developed by Michael White in the Dulwich Centre. This involves young people externalising the factors in their lives by telling stories about what has happened to them, but in the guise of different characters. They can examine influences and explore options. This is used by partner organisations of DCD and they find it very effective. As it stands young people use paper and pen to draw characters, paths and environments. DCD proposes to create a Gamified Approach to create a virtual environment where these characters can be visualised and their journeys mapped out and explored. Such adaptable virtual environments are common: from shared worlds like Second Life, to the digital careers of cartoon people in the Sims, and the detailed expanse of Minecraft that is infinitely changeable by players. In these games, players are represented by versions of themselves called 'Avatars'. Changing Minds would go beyond these. Changing Minds would be specially built in the 'Game Engine' Unity to be a tool to support Narrative Therapy, designed in concert with a Clinical Psychologist and young people with mental health issues to be safe and therapeutic.

Insight & Impact

This idea came out of a discussion between DCD staff, a clinical psychologist and workers from a Charity called PSS who work in CAMHS (Children's and Adolescent’s Mental Health Services.) All these use narrative therapy and would desire such a tool. It does not currently exist. A game to teach Mindfulness was developed and tested in New Zealand and was shown to be very useful for young people. Games can be used in therapy with clinically significant outcomes. As followers of the Social Model, DCD also know that young people are interested in normalising their experience by experimenting with their identity in virtual environments. This obviously needs to be balanced with the needs for safety for this vulnerable group. DCD came out of a disability arts organisation called DPSquared. Members of both are people with mental health issues, and DCD is very interested in exploring our unique experience of being disabled people (including people with mental health issues) who work in technology. DCD wants this to be a therapeutic tool but also something young disabled people can use themselves to explore their lives safely and positively.

Skills needed for this project

  • We require a community based (Tier 3 and 4) organisation to work with and provide a safe structure for co-creation with young people with mental health issues (we would choose PSS in Liverpool)
  • A Games Company with experience of Mental Health, professional Games Community and co-creation.
  • A Tier 3 and 4 Clinical Psychologist with an interest in the impact of technology.