Emotional dysregulation can be defined as the limited ability to initiate and regulate one’s emotional reaction and response in a manner that is consistent with the situation.
It has also been noted that emotional dysregulation is a common feature of several different health and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and oppositional defiant disorder.
The results of a small randomized ‘proof-of-concept’ trial that was conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital show that incorporating a video game with biofeedback may be able to augment current cognitive-behavioral therapies to address emotional regulation in youth (‘A “Proof of Concept” Randomized Control Trial of a Video Game Requiring Emotional Regulation to Augment Anger Control Training’ by Ducharme, P et al).
The videogame is RAGE-Control (Regulate and Gain Emotional Control), which was developed about a decade ago. The game has a basic premise—try to destroy asteroids while avoiding shooting friendly spacecrafts.
If the ‘shooter’ has a calm and steady heartbeat, they play better than if their heart rate gets too high (the ability to shoot goes down).
During the trial, patients were divided into two groups for the game—one that got the feedback on their heartbeat (during the game) and the other that didn’t get the feedback. Those that were informed that their heart rate was increasing were able to bring their heart rate back down and perform ‘better’ on the game.
While a larger and more randomize study is still needed, the initial results from the ‘proof-of-concept’ trial, shows that there are advantages of incorporating games aimed at helping develop emotional regulation into youth therapy include engaging individuals who may be more hesitant to participate in a normal treatment plan, and help youth develop the problem-solving skills needed to help regulate their emotions outside of a therapy session.
News release: Video game with biofeedback helps kids and teens regulate stress and anger. Eurekalert
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay