Get Regular Updates!
Search
|Taming the black dog with Dungeons & Dragons

People

image|

Shutterstock

Taming the black dog with Dungeons & Dragons

Taming the black dog with Dungeons & Dragons

You're cornered in a dark alley, a robotic werewolf comes at you snapping its jaws. What do you do?

Taming the black dog with Dungeons & Dragons

Although robotic werewolves aren’t an everyday situation, they might show up in your therapy session as more counsellors use tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) for therapy.

Dealing with mental health issues is tough for anyone, let alone teenagers. Michael Keady is a youth mental health counsellor who uses TTRPGs to make group therapy more engaging.

“It’s a therapy that doesn’t feel like therapy. It’s a fun way to work with mental health without being uncomfortable or confronting,” says Michael.

Michael started using TTRPGs in his therapy sessions because he found the games get students to open up more.

“I wanted to get into this because … not all kids are ready to sit face to face with a therapist and talk about their problems. They get a little bit daunted,” says Michael.

View Larger
Image|Michael Keady
Typical setup for a tabletop role-playing game

A bonus to will saves

The TTRPG sessions are designed to teach social skills, problem solving, creativity and more.

TTRPGs like Dungeons & Dragons are experiencing a resurgence, with sales jumping by 33% in 2020, despite the global pandemic.

Michael uses TTRPGs aimed at younger children, such as No Thank You, Evil! and Monsterhearts. The quests are then tailored for the individual students in the session.

Michael says No Thank You, Evil! is a slimmed down TTRPG, making it easier for first-timers to get into.

“You create a character with a noun, a verb and an adjective. For example, I am a sneaky ninja who fights werewolves. That’s it, that’s your character creation.”

Video|No Thank You, Evil!

Fighting your demons

Michael carefully crafts his campaigns, weaving in elements of various therapies, notably acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). The therapies aim to help people learn how to face their problems and teach skills such as emotional regulation and distress tolerance.

“It’s part of a relatively recent and emerging style of work called therapeutically applied role-playing games. It’s come out of work in the USA over the last 9 or 10 years,” says Michael.

View Larger
Image|Michael Keady
Dungeons & Dragons guidebooks, game master screen and dice

While Michael enjoys video games, he feels TTRPGs have an advantage over the digital medium.

“Video games often have very limited outcomes in terms of solutions. The best thing with the TTRPGs is you can put players in a situation and they can create a solution to the problem that you wouldn’t have thought possible.”

So about that robotic werewolf …

Michael admits the students he works with often surprise him, recounting how his students reacted to a robotic werewolf.

“I was expecting them to fight the evil robotic werewolf, but one of the kids ninja’d onto the back and said ‘we found the off switch’.

“I said ‘it’s a killer robot, it doesn’t have an off switch’, and they’re like ‘well, what do you do when you got to do maintenance?’ and I was like ‘OK, you got me’.”

View Larger
Image|Michael Keady
Michael Keady

Moving forward, Michael wants to make the games more physical, like TTRPG Inspirisles where players use sign language to cast spells.

He says TTRPGs give players the flexibility and freedom to solve problems in a creative way.

“It’s really special. It gets them thinking out of the box,” says Michael.

Particle Puns

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?