This presentation was originally made to the APA 2021 Symposium, where a group of us presented about the therapeutic application of tabletop role-playing games.
Presentations will introduce the therapeutic application of tabletop role-playing games, review relevant literature, and present recent clinical advancements and research findings. General Statement: Individuals struggling with mental health concerns are often impacted by decreased engagement, functioning, and sense of ability and/or agency to solve their problems. Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG), like Dungeons & Dragons, are interactive, rule-based storytelling experiences where group members work cooperatively to solve problems and overcome narrative obstacles. Tabletop role-playing games have been applied to the therapeutic environments to help address mental health challenges by utilizing vicarious scenarios to prompt participants to develop and practice problem solving skills, frustration tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and empathy. This experiential learning approach allows individuals of all ages the opportunity to develop perspective taking skills which can increase psychological flexibility and empathy towards oneself and others. The purpose of this symposia is to introduce the therapeutic application of tabletop role-playing games, review relevant literature, and present recent clinical advancements and research findings. The first presenter will provide an overview of the mental health benefits associated with TTRPGs as well as discuss ways that TTRPGs can be applied therapeutically. The second presenter will expound on a novel TA-RPG group therapy that is being utilized with veterans in the VA healthcare system. Presenter will also report on findings of a pilot program evaluation examining the feasibility and acceptability of the group. The third presenter will elaborate on a pioneering approach to applying TA-RPGs known as the Game to Grow Method as well as provide recommendations for clinicians. The final presenter will elaborate on strategies for clinicians seeking to integrate TA-RPGs and other games into their clinical practice as well as discuss opportunities for additional training.
Authors: Allison Battles, PhD., Thomas Quinlan, PhD, Adam Davis, MA Ed, Elizabeth Kilmer, PhD, Jared Kilmer, PhD, Ryan Kelly, PhD, Megan Connell, PsyD