The intervention I want to talk about today isn’t a specific game, so I am writing in a different format than I usually do in this series. Details about the client interaction that I describe below have been changed for privacy, but the spirit of the story is in tact.

The Enterprise is one of the many, many places I’ve held sessions in the past six months.

Since March, I have gotten much more comfortable holding online sessions with kids, but in the beginning one of my biggest struggles was holding their attention long enough to have a productive session. In my office, kids can run around, and I can just follow them. If a child disengages or shuts down, I can get down on the floor and join them at their level. But when I’m on camera, I can’t move or even control what I am looking at.

Early on in my work from home life, I asked a child if we could talk about the difficulty they were having engaging with me on Zoom. I asked what might help them focus, and they said (this is paraphrased), “I’m sorry, Dr. Amy, but before our meeting I was watching Godzilla, and that’s just more interesting than you are.”

They were absolutely right; I’m not as interesting as Godzilla.

So I asked them to wait a moment, went on Google Images, found a picture of Godzilla, and made it my virtual background. It was magic! Suddenly our meeting was much more interesting.

If a child is struggling to pay attention, I’ll ask them where they would rather be and find an image that matches that, or I will find a background of their favorite television show or a special interest they have. Some kids have used the virtual background for imaginative play and will tell me that I need to be in jail, or my house is on fire, and I find a background that fits that. I’ve done sessions on the moon, at the bottom of the ocean, in a cave, and at Disneyland. This is definitely one of my favorite Zoom tools for telehealth with kids.

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. She completed her internship at the National Psychology Training Consortium with specializations in assessment and rural mental health. Currently, she specializes in trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming care, and she is certified in telemental health. Dr. Marschall runs a private practice, RMH Therapy, where she provides individual and family therapy as well as psychological assessments across the lifespan. Dr. Amy Marschall is an author and professional speaker.

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