Minecraft as a Counseling Tool: Building Bridges to Children's Mental Health

10 Apr 2024

Guest blog post by Emma Robinson

Minecraft has developed a strong reputation throughout the world as an imaginative, innovative, and entertaining virtual environment. At its core, Minecraft enables individuals to express themselves creatively in a digital world. In recognizing its potential to support children and young people, the team at KEMP Hospice have recently begun using Minecraft as a counseling tool.

KEMP Hospice's Compassionate Care and Creative Support for Families in the Wyre Forest

KEMP Hospice’s Family Support & Bereavement Services Team provides counseling support to children as young as five years old who are facing, or living with, the loss of a parent, grandparent or loved one. They use creative therapeutic techniques and tools to help talk through grief, fix positive memories in place, and express challenging emotions.

KEMP Hospice staff with Minecraft items

In recognizing and embracing new and innovative ways to offer bereavement support to children and young people, the KEMP Hospice Bereavement Counselors recently received training in the use of Minecraft as a therapeutic tool to integrate activities they use in their traditional counseling service into Minecraft (such as the Anger Iceberg and the Body Mind Map). By providing counseling within the game, KEMP is pioneering a novel approach for children and young people facing bereavement. “Witnessing their transformation from beginners to adept users of Minecraft as a therapeutic medium fills me with pride” said Minecraft counseling trainer Ellie Finch. “This underscores the importance of professionals receiving quality training in utilizing video games therapeutically, unlocking new avenues for connection and support in modern counseling practices.”

Body-mind map created in Minecraft

Thanks to the creative and flexible nature of Minecraft, KEMP counselors enter the game with their client, where they begin to build environments and situations. Using therapeutic techniques, together they explore the grief the child or young person is experiencing following a bereavement. Counseling Team Leader Lyn explains “Using Minecraft as a therapeutic tool has transformed our way of working with children and young people. We as therapists are able to step into an environment created by our young clients; their own virtual world in which they can share and express their emotions in a creative way. By encouraging imagination and expression we can explore their grief at a deeper therapeutic level and help them to uncover their feelings following bereavement.”

Integrating Minecraft as a valuable tool for counseling services

A number of children having benefited from the new service since the KEMP Children’s counselling team began offering it in July 2023. Lyn continued “Although our use of Minecraft is in its infancy, it is being warmly received by an increasing number of clients. To date the team have used Minecraft with children aged between ages 8 to 11 years with the plan to roll it out to young people of secondary school age. As a charity, we never charge for our care and support services, so we are incredibly proud to be able to offer this new and innovative form of counseling, and it is a joy to see our clients thrive from this way of working therapeutically.”

Adapting to a changing environment with technology

With ever-changing advances in technology, and the significant role it plays in the lives of children and young people, KEMP’s team are proud to embrace new ways of working and finding the best methods to provide support. Incorporating Minecraft into therapeutic approaches for children is an innovative and impactful strategy in promoting their mental health and overall well-being. It’s a way to bridge the gap between the creativity and fun they enjoy whilst playing the game and the tools and techniques counsellors use to help talk them through their grief.

Emma Robinson is the Marketing and Communications Officer for KEMP The Wyre Forest Hospice. Learn more about KEMP Hospice and their work with Minecraft here.