DR. DANIEL KAUFMANN
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Title: Online Full-Time Faculty
Years at GCU: 3
- Ph.D. – Counselor Education & Supervision with Specialization in Family and Couples Counseling from Barry University
- M.A. – Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary
- B.S. – Psychology from Florida Southern College
What is your most notable accomplishment in your field, and why was it important?
Multiple contributions to educating counselors on understanding internet gaming and video game disorders via publication, presentation and supervision. My favorite published work so far (besides my dissertation) is “The Use of the Hero’s Journey as a Framework for Understanding Counselor Development.”
What are you most passionate about in your field and why?
Finding ways to apply pedagogy via technological resources to help our online students experience what occurs in the classroom.
What is a memorable moment you had in class, and what does that reveal about your teaching style?
I had my theories students do a final-week role play where they formed small groups and conceptualized a fictional character using one of the 17 counseling theories learned in the course. Then two members of each group role played the fictional character seeing a clinician from that style. It was amazing to see Ariel (“Little Mermaid”) and Tony Stark (Iron Man after “Infinity War”) go through a counseling session. My students were creative geniuses for that activity.
Another moment: I was sharing about a book I once read, “The Dharma of Star Wars,” which does a great job of relating mindfulness concepts similar to Acceptance Commitment Therapy to the Force and other spiritual elements from this fictional galaxy.
I lent it to a friend to read before my time relocating to Phoenix to teach at GCU. When I moved here, I left my book with my friend. I then mentioned that my copy didn’t make the move with me in one of the cohort courses where I was teaching Addiction in Counseling.
The final week of class, we returned from dinner break and the book was sitting on the podium — all of the students had written on the inside cover the things they appreciated about my passion for the course. I thanked them and could not hold back the tears. That book sits on my desk, and I regard them giving me that book as one of my greatest accomplishments to this day as an educator.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I have a game-streaming channel on Twitch where I play games as Dr. Gameology. I actually connect this into my teaching persona.
When a storytelling point or character moment treads on the concepts I teach, I create videos called “Mental Health Moments,” which academically break down the action in the game. I use these as class resources to encourage my students to see the insights from our coursework throughout all of life and not just when we plan to sit inside a counseling office.
This has caused some of the most vibrant interactions in my forums since I started blending my entire person into my teaching efforts. Also, the game community of my viewers know me as an academic, since many of them knew me before I finished my doctorate, so it helps them to enjoy all of what I offer as a person experiencing the games they enjoy to watch. It is a win-win.
Dr. Gameology (which is me) also is the host of a podcast called “The Gaming Persona,” where my cohost and I explore “who we become when we play games.” The intended audience is people who enjoy games or clinicians who may need an entry point into understanding the appeal of playing games focusing in virtual environments.
This is an extension of the supervision efforts I provide for counselors in the field pursuing the International Gaming Disorder Certification. I just enjoy sharing what I have learned en route to becoming what I am as a counselor professional.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I am the owner of a private counseling practice that operates entirely through telehealth. Area of Effect Counseling connects to a type of spell used in video games to heal or destroy.
I use this because I see the benefits of counseling in various ways. If you receive healing, you will be more capable of inspiring those around you through your wellness. Also, if you are struggling, it will be more possible to spread your frustrations to the surrounding area.
I hope I inspire people to pursue the path of healing so they may have that positive impact on those surrounding them. That concept comes from the world of video games, but it reflects my philosophy of why mental health matters on every level. That is my passion for being a counselor and a counselor educator.