It’s nearly the end of our Spring quarter of our therapeutic Dungeons and Dragons social skills groups, and at the end of every quarter we ask this check-in question:
The participants answered with heartwarming wisdom and depth.
Many of the participants in our groups struggle with some degree of social isolation, sometimes related to a mental health diagnosis, and sometimes just because of general anxiety and depression. Over the last 10 weeks of playing Dungeons and Dragons in our social skills groups the players have had the opportunity to explore their character, experiment with new behaviors, and allow aspects of their character to illuminate parts of their real lives.
There were great responses to this question in each one of the five groups. Here are some highlights:
“Being ready is not the same thing as being prepared. I get prepared, but I don’t really get ready. My character does both.”
“My character sees what needs to be done and does it. Sometimes I just see things and complain and then stop there.”
“A lesson I learn from my character is to let my voice be heard more often. I don’t speak up as much as he does.”
“Take more risks. I’d learn from both when I succeed and when I fail, but if I don’t take a risk, I don’t learn anything.”
“Don’t bottle up emotions, or they’ll come back to get you big time.”
There were so many great responses it was difficult to choose some for this post!
Once players identify an aspect or lesson from their character that they resonate with, we hit them with a revelation: “Your character is you. All those times you took risks, spoke up, listened to your teammates with an open ear, and overcame obstacles, that was as much you as it was your character.”
When we attended the Save Against Fear convention in 2015, we received these bracelets which now live on our bookshelf. They say WWYCD: What would your character do?
We tell our participants to take this wisdom with them, and the next time they are in a group project at school, or dealing with a difficult sibling or parent interaction, they can ask themselves this question and carry a bit of their character with them; to give them some confidence and strength even when they’re away from the gaming table and there are no dice to determine outcomes.
We look forward to hearing their report next week for our final session!