Superhero Therapy

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Presented by Janina Scarlet, PhD

Course Description

Superhero stories and characters from fantasy and science fiction worlds have become prominent in American culture. We look to these stories for strength and inspiration in our own everyday lives—especially during times of struggle. This workshop will focus on how to incorporate popular culture and interactive games into evidence-based therapies, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and narrative exposure therapy (NET) to help clients better manage anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other psychological disorders. Join clinical psychologist and international speaker/trainer Dr. Janina Scarlet in exploring Superhero Therapy, and learn how it might help you better help your clients in promoting positive changes.

Janina Scarlet, PhD, will present game-based and pop-culture-based treatment techniques in this workshop. Adult and adolescent clients have been shown to respond to these techniques—superhero and science fiction/fantasy stories contain powerful narratives and characters that many clients can identify with quickly. These narratives and characters offer a new way in to your client’s deepest fears and values. You’ll leave this workshop with the tools to help your clients map their own heroic journey using ACT, CBT, and NET.

After all, even superheroes need help sometimes.

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the concept of Superhero Therapy.
  2. Demonstrate how to incorporate pop culture examples into treatment.
  3. Analyze which pop culture characters might be most suitable for a specific client.
  4. Create a treatment plan using Superhero Therapy.
  5. Explain the concept of Therapy Quest and game-based approaches to therapy.
  6. Discuss research related to game-based and pop-culture-based treatments.
  7. Demonstrate how to incorporate interactive choice-based game into therapy.
  8. Demonstrate how to apply Superhero Therapy to clinical cases.
  9. Demonstrate how to create emotional safety with clients using pop culture
  10. Explain narrative exposure therapy (NET) techniques using pop culture
  11. Demonstrate how to apply NET to treat PTSD, anxiety, and depression
  12. Demonstrate how to help clients create meaningful social connections using Superhero Therapy
  13. Explain the role and the importance of heroic role models for treatment and recovery
  14. Discuss how to “gamify” homework practice
  15. Demonstrate mindfulness and self-compassion practices in Superhero Therapy framework
  16. Demonstrate the implementation of creativity exercises in Superhero Therapy


Session 1
October 12, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EDT

  • Introduction to Superhero Therapy
  • Formulation and processing of an origin story

Session 2
October 19, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EDT

  • Learning to select a heroic role model and establishing heroic core values
  • Create a treatment plan using Superhero Therapy

Session 3
October 26, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EDT

  • Introduction to game-based therapy
  • Interactive role-playing game demonstration

Session 4
November 2, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EDT

  • Recruiting sidekicks and learning social connection continued. Fostering growth through creativity
  • Establishing emotional safety through pop culture (Learning the Patronus Charm, introduction to willingness and vulnerability)

November 16, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EST

  • Fostering growth through creativity
  • Writing fanfiction for therapy

November 30, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EST

  • Introduction to the Superhero Narrative – defusion, restructuring, and empowering
  • Using Superhero Narrative to treat PTSD, anxiety, depression

December 7, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EST

  • Mindfulness as a Jedi Power
  • Power-ups – self-compassion, self-soothing, and mindfulness with pop culture

December 14, 2018, 4 PM—6 PM EST

  • Create your own movie – committed action, final narrative
  • “Gamifying” homework


This course is intended for mental health professionals, beginners to intermediate level



Recommended Readings

Scarlet, J. (2017). Superhero Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Superhero Therapy - book cover image


Derrick, J. E., Gabriel, S., & Hugenberg, K. (2009). Social surrogacy: How favored television programs provide the experience of belonging. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45, 352–362

Garbarino, J. (1987). Children’s response to a sexual abuse prevention program: A study of the Spiderman comic. Child Abuse & Neglect, 11(1), 143-148.

Vezzali, L., Stathi, S., Giovannini, D., Capozza, D., & Trifiletti, E. (2015). The greatest magic of Harry Potter: Reducing prejudice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 45(2), 105-121.

White, R. E., Prager, E. O., Schaefer, C., Kross, E., Duckworth, A. L., & Carlson, S. M. (2017). The “Batman Effect”: Improving perseverance in young children. Child development, 88(5), 1563-1571.

Young, A. F., Gabriel, S., & Hollar, J. L. (2013). Batman to the rescue! The protective effects of parasocial relationships with muscular superheroes on men’s body image. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(1), 173-177.


This training is worth 16 CE credit hours if attended live. While we can only provide CE to those who are present – i.e. logged in – for live presentation(s), all Praxis webinars are recorded for later viewing. Registrants may then access these recordings at any time for up to six months from the conclusion of the training to which they pertain.

Continuing Education
Read more about our continuing education credits—how they work and how to get your certificate(s).

Technical Requirements
This is an online learning event. Access to a computer and high-speed internet is required. Refer to our FAQ page for further information on technical requirements for this training.

Refer to our FAQ page for our disclosure information.

All prices listed in US dollars and times in US Eastern time zone.