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Case Study 1


Student A, a 12-year-old boy, was referred to me due to his parents’ concerns about a lack of balance relating to his gaming. He was angry and aggressive when they attempted boundaries and was becoming increasingly withdrawn. He had begun to refuse to do his academic work, and said he only felt calm or happy when gaming. He was gaming for upwards of 9 hours on some days.

Key Issues

In the first 45-minute session with A and his Mum, I was able to identify 2 key issues:

  • Student A believed he was in charge. He did not accept Mum and Dad’s attempts at creating boundaries, as good for him. He believed they were just being mean and unkind and saw no problems with his gaming or his increasing reluctance to engage in his learning.
  • Student A was so hooked on his gaming that he was using manipulation to keep limits imposed by Mum and Dad, from interrupting his choices. He would tell them he would ring ‘child line’ and that they were stopping him seeing his friends by cutting down his gaming time.

Intervention and Support

  • The first 3 sessions were with Mum and Student A together. I was able to build a picture of his emotions, his belief systems and helped him to articulate his emotions and link those to his behaviour choices.
  • I validated his emotions, helped him understand that his love of gaming was understood by his parents and it was understandable to be so attached to something you feel that strongly about. We were not trying to stop him doing something he loved so much. We were looking for balance. I helped him understand that extensive research shows that the gaming companies see parents as, ‘purchase friction’. They are the thing that comes between them making more money from kids. We looked at extreme examples of kids who were out of control and drew parallels to his current situation.
  • In the 4th session I saw him on a 1:1 basis. I offered the tough love approach to help him to understand that boundaries are love; that his parents are not his enemy and that 12-year-olds should never be in charge in this kind of situation, he must let them be the boss. I showed him that he needed to strike a balance that is fair and good for his wellbeing whilst all the time validating his responses and gently leading him to an understanding and acceptance of his manipulation and the reasons for it. He was able to begin to see his behaviour was hurting people around him and was on a path to destroying his wellbeing and his education as well as his relationships. The realisation was dawning on him.
  • I was able to support his Mum and Dad in validating their boundaries and suggesting that they stand firm and unwavering in their approach. When he did not stick to the limits, they removed the Xbox. I suggested that they hold firm, regardless of his reaction or response and prepare for the manipulation to increase, to be firm but kind.
  • We arranged for him to come into school immediately and join the key worker students as his situation was vulnerable.


Total of 6 Sessions

  • On the first day into school (three weeks after our first session) Student A engaged fully and returned home, in Mum’s words; “far chattier, happier and certainly more smiley.” In addition, Student A spoke to his Grandad on the telephone who also remarked to Mum, that he could not believe he was talking to the same boy as he was so engaging and happy.
  • For the first time in several weeks, Student A engaged fully in his learning day and reported feeling happier and proud of his hard work. He agreed that coming into school was the best idea and Mum rewarded him with 2 hours of Xbox after day one.

If you are experiencing anything similar please get in touch and we can discuss how we can help.

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