Game to Grow is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the use of games for therapeutic, educational, and community growth. Game to Grow’s weekly therapeutic social skills groups help over 150 participants around the world become more confident, creative, and socially capable using games of all kinds, most notably Dungeons and Dragons and Minecraft. Through its comprehensive training program, Game to Grow trains mental health professionals, educators, and community advocates to use innovative game-based strategies to enrich their own communities. In addition to providing group services and training, Game to Grow additionally provides support to those in need through its individual counseling and clinical assessment program. Game to Grow also developed and successfully Kickstarted Critical Core, a beginner’s box for therapeutically applied role-playing games.
Game to Grow’s mission is three-fold:
- Provide gaming groups for therapeutic, educational, and community growth.
- Train others to use game-based interventions to benefit their own communities.
- Promote awareness of the life-enriching potential of games across the world.
Population Served and Impact
While a diagnosis is not required to attend groups, participants in Game to Grow’s therapeutic social skills programs are frequently living with challenges associated with Autism, ADHD, social anxiety, or depression. While playing games in a safe, supportive, and fun environment, participants are guided to build meaningful friendships and develop the social confidence to flourish socially on their own terms. Game to Grow also has special programs to serve youth in foster care and hospitalized youth.
To spread the positive impact of games around the globe, Game to Grow has provided training to hundreds of therapists and professionals through its training program, workshops at academic conferences, and individual consultations. Presenters from Game to Grow have spoken to thousands of individuals at conferences and conventions to spread the understanding of games as the powerful life-enriching tool that they are.
Quotes from Parents of Participants
“You’ve helped him in a big way, giving him a lot of confidence while opening up a whole new world filled with magic and fantastic beasts… teaching him about teamwork & collaboration and creative problem solving.”
“It gives him something to look forward to each week. He has such limited interactions with others, this group is invaluable.”
“This is without a doubt the best ‘therapy’ my kid has had.”
Game to Grow was originally founded in 2017 by Adam Davis, MAEd, and Adam Johns, LMFT. Davis and Johns met in graduate school at Antioch University Seattle and began using games to improve lives in 2011. They combined their respective training and expertise in family therapy, education, and drama therapy with their years of experience as gamers and facilitators to develop what would become the Game to Grow Method of Therapeutically Applied Role-Playing Games. For several years Davis and Johns ran a small two-person operation serving youth in the greater Seattle area. After four years running these groups, along with their respective other work in public schools and in therapeutic practice, Davis and Johns founded Game to Grow to expand the impact of the game-based methods they had developed.
Game to Grow officially launched via a successful crowdfunding campaign and was able to hire and train new facilitators to expand services. In 2020, as a response to emerging challenges related to COVID, Game to Grow shifted groups virtual. Now no longer confined by geographic regions, group services expanded to meet the need of participants worldwide. Around the same time, demand increased for training in Game to Grow’s unique approach. With the hiring of Director of Education and Training Dr. Elizabeth Kilmer, PhD, a formal training program was established to serve as a multiplier for Game to Grow’s mission. Dr. Jared Kilmer, PhD, was also brought on as Director of Counseling Services, launching the individual counseling program and clinical assessment programs at Game to Grow. Director of Groups Services Michael More has shepherded new game groups focused on additional populations, including groups targeted to meet the needs of foster youth and LGBTQ youth.
The positive impact of games is not limited to the communities we currently serve. Game to Grow currently has pilot programs established to run Critical Core groups for hospitalized youth and will continue to expand direct services to support more marginalized youth, provide relief for veterans suffering from PTSD, and help many other individuals address their personal challenges. Continued expansion of Game to Grow’s training program and the additional development of training materials like Critical Core will ensure that hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world will benefit from intentional gaming. Our vision: A game in every hospital, a game in every clinic, and a game in every school.