Therapy doesn’t have to look like it does in the media with a couch and a shrink…
My favorite type of therapy involves unique-looking dice, a group of people with animated gestures, and miniatures on maps depicting realistic adventures—a therapy group that feels personable and connected but also allows for you to work in the comfort of your own physical space. Such an environment allows for the practice of new skills learned in individual therapy sessions with a safe, supportive group of people who empathize with what you are going through.
Role-playing (experiential) therapy, specializing in Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition (D&D 5e) is where I see the most growth in my clients. These clients often tell me how much more confident and creative they feel after only meeting for a few sessions. Clients who have played D&D outside of therapeutic environments tell me about the difficulties they have had with maintaining schedules, getting people to show on time, or having a DM (Dungeon Master) who isn’t fair. I have removed the stress of D&D and instead provide a way for people to feel safe and secure while practicing a coping skill they already enjoy.
Some clients have played for over 20 years, while others are brand new. These types of groups allow for people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests to connect over a shared experience in bettering their lives through therapy and trying something together in D&D role playing.
D&D role-playing therapy involves the following:
- Blowing off some steam after a long day of stressors and expectations that felt overwhelming in real life by role-playing a performance in the middle of a city to where you make money and become a hero amongst people in the imaginative world you help create.
- Connecting to people in the session through practicing therapy skills and checking in about your weeks while also getting the opportunity to role-play conflict or interactions in the world.
- Growing creativity, confidence, and skills that impact your life and develop as you have fun doing so.
The cool part about the therapy groups and D&D based therapy is how much it can evolve and adapt depending on who is involved. It is a highly individualized treatment because, although it has a structure and concept that is followed, clients get to control each portion of their character and create something unique to their needs. I don’t make clients’ characters or stories. Clients are in full control of what they want to process or focus on.
I have had clients who want to:
- Escape their powerless feelings in life so they make characters who are powerful and strong barbarians or fighters.
- Battle feelings of loneliness or isolation during the pandemic and role play as outgoing bards (musicians/performers) and charismatic characters to meet currently unmet needs.
- Process a loss or trauma by providing situations in session they can work through with support from group members to overcome pain that has been with them for years.
Who can benefit from this type of therapy?
Regardless of why people join my groups, they often experience increased confidence and new abilities to overcome problems in their lives because of having worked through them as their characters and resonating with their characters’ strength to do so.
This type of therapy is great for someone who either is looking for a new approach to try or looking for something that works because they haven’t found the right fit yet. I am an “out of the box” person, and I have found the most change and improvement in my life has come from Dungeons and Dragons and therapy. I combine the two in my work to provide this opportunity to my clients.
If you like these ideas and think this is something you might like to try, contact Greenway Therapy to set up a consultation with me.