In the realm of psychological research, the intersection of video games and mental health has emerged as a fertile ground for exploration. A recent article written by authors who have worked on other Geek Therapeutics projects have been published in the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy Research and examines this intriguing intersection with a focus on "Persona 5: The Royal." Titled "Am Thou, Thou Art I: Persona 5: The Royal’s Representation of Post-Traumatic Growth Through Social Penetration Theory," the article investigates how this popular game illustrates post-traumatic growth (PTG) through the lens of Social Penetration Theory (SPT).  

Here is a link the to articlehttps://savvysciencepublisher.com/index.php/jppr/article/view/1008

Understanding PTG and SPT

Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) refers to the positive psychological changes that can occur as a result of struggling with highly challenging life circumstances. It encompasses increased personal strength, a deeper appreciation of life, and improved relationships. Social Penetration Theory (SPT), on the other hand, posits that relationships develop through gradual layers of self-disclosure, moving from superficial to intimate levels.

Persona 5: The Royal - A Case Study

"Persona 5: The Royal," a game renowned for its rich narrative and complex character development, serves as a compelling case study for examining PTG and SPT. The game's story revolves around a group of high school students who form the "Phantom Thieves" to combat corruption in society. Throughout their journey, each character confronts personal traumas and gradually reveals their innermost thoughts and feelings to their peers, mirroring the layers of self-disclosure described in SPT.

Methodology and Analysis

The study employs a qualitative analysis of the game's narrative and character interactions. Researchers observed gameplay, analyzed character dialogues, and used thematic coding to identify instances of PTG. They tracked how characters evolved through the storyline, focusing on key moments of self-disclosure and relational development.

One example highlighted in the study is the character of Futaba Sakura, who suffers from severe social anxiety and trauma related to her mother's death. Through her interactions with the protagonist and other team members, Futaba gradually opens up about her fears and insecurities. This process of self-disclosure not only deepens her relationships but also signifies her journey of PTG as she gains confidence and a sense of belonging.

Implications for Therapy

The findings of this study suggest that video games like "Persona 5: The Royal" can be valuable tools in therapeutic settings. The game's portrayal of PTG and SPT can facilitate discussions about personal growth and relationship dynamics in therapy sessions. For instance, therapists might use scenes from the game to help clients articulate their own experiences of trauma and growth.

Broader Impact and Future Research

Beyond therapeutic applications, this study contributes to the broader understanding of how interactive media can reflect and influence psychological growth and relational dynamics. It opens the door for future research to explore other video games and their potential to represent and facilitate PTG and SPT. As video games continue to evolve as a medium, their role in mental health research and practice is likely to expand, offering new avenues for engagement and healing.


"Persona 5: The Royal" exemplifies how video games can serve as more than just entertainment. By depicting the nuanced process of PTG through the framework of SPT, the game provides valuable insights into the human experience of overcoming trauma and building deeper connections. As research in this area progresses and more continuing education is built surrounding evidence based theories and treatment models, the validity for video games in mental health and wellness spaces becomes increasingly apparent, offering exciting treatment options for practitioners.

Signing Up For Our Newsletter Will Give You Insights Into The Geek Therapeutics Cmmunity!

Get A 10% Coupon Now!