The role-playing game (RPG) therapy industry is a sector that leverages the potential of role-playing games in a therapeutic setting to address various biological, physiological, mental health, and social challenges. Below is a summary overview regarding the RPG Therapy industry.
Industry Leaders and Organizations
Bodhana Group, The
The Bodhana Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes the use of tabletop gaming as a directed therapeutic and clinical practice to foster personal growth and enhance social and educational services for individuals and families. They assert that the intrinsic benefits derived from gaming can be channeled and utilized to improve various aspects of an individual's life, such as math or reading skills, socializing, emotional expression, and coping skills, thereby making one better at life.
Some key areas of focus for The Bodhana Group are:
They employ narrative role-playing games (RPGs) for therapeutic and beneficial intentions. Their approach is designed to guide participants from theory to application to practice through a structured certification program known as The Bodhana Model. This model aims at blending therapy with tabletop role-playing games and is structured for therapists, counselors, and educators.
Training and Courses:
The Bodhana Group offers various training courses including TBG 101, TBG 201, TBG 301, among others, which cover therapeutic applications of tabletop role-playing games, creating and implementing therapeutically driven content for TRPG, and writing and running a therapeutic one shot respectively. They provide both full day & weekend sessions and 13 weekly 2-hour modules covering the content of these courses.
They have published a booklet titled "Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness: The Therapeutic Application of Role Playing Games," which provides a basic overview of the benefits that can be derived from the intentional use of Tabletop Role Playing Games.
Research and Development:
The organization is also engaged in research and development, working on an adjunct treatment model incorporating role-playing games. This model will include a book aimed at parents and therapists alike.
They offer a course titled "The Bodhana Model: Therapy-Blended TRPG" which teaches how to match therapeutic modality with role-playing to ensure that therapy is prioritized. The course is aimed at therapists, teachers, or youth group leaders, providing them with the tools needed to turn gaming into goals.
Advocacy for RPGs in Therapy:
Through research and community engagement, they also advocate for the therapeutic use of RPGs. A researcher from The Bodhana Group, Matthew Varrette, has mentioned that group activities such as TRPGs have been utilized to enhance social skills and mental well-being.
The Bodhana Group thus plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between tabletop gaming and therapeutic practices, providing a structured approach to harness the benefits of RPGs for improved mental health and social interactions.
Game to Grow
A non-profit organization known for using tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons for therapeutic, educational, and community growth. They help youth and adults become more confident, creative, and socially capable through customized, collaborative gaming experiences. They also provide training and support to other therapeutic and gaming professionals, educators, parents, and advocates.
An organization that has been advocating for the use of geek culture, including role-playing games, in therapy for over a decade. They have grown from a community celebrating geek culture to a nonprofit organization offering certification programs and training on Geek Therapy practices.
RPG Research is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization primarily focused on researching the effects and potential benefits of role-playing games (RPGs) across various ages, populations, and settings. Their endeavor spans several decades, and they've been actively involved with RPGs since the 1970s, researching their effects and capabilities for individuals ranging from age 2 to senior adults since 1983.
Some key points concerning RPG Research and their utilization of role-playing games include:
Research and Advocacy:
The 100% volunteer-run organization is devoted to establishing through rigorous scientific testing, the effects of all RPG formats including tabletop (TRPG), live-action (LRPG), electronic (ERPG), and hybrid variants (HRPG) on participants. Their research also extends to the impact of cooperative music.
Community Programs and Outreach:
RPG Research has been providing community programs centered around the joy and benefits of role-playing gaming since 1977. They conduct these programs at various venues including libraries, hobby stores, schools, community centers, parks, and online platforms. Through these programs, they've built valuable relationships with entities like Spark Central, School Districts, conventions, and Parks & Recreation departments.
Impact and Global Outreach:
Since 2017, RPG Research's community programs have directly improved the bio-psycho-socioemotional functioning and quality of life of more than 100,000 people, and indirectly millions more across six continents. Their community programs and research have been instrumental in improving the quality of life and functioning of participants, ranging from children to senior adults, and everyone in between.
Public Engagement and Volunteering:
RPG Research operates on a 100% volunteer-run model and encourages public engagement through donations and volunteering opportunities. They host RPG sessions at their community center in Spokane, and have set up a donation system to support their initiatives and keep their community center operational.
Through their research, RPG Research aggregates and shares the latest studies on the effects and potential benefits of RPGs, aiming to achieve educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, social, and therapeutic goals. They've been actively researching and sharing their findings since 1983. As of 2023 their publicly free and open knowledgebase contains more than 10,000 content items.
Their approach to research and their community programs, is described as accessible, and they support evidence-in-practice community programs to better the lives of individuals across the globe, emphasizing the inclusive nature of their programs and research endeavors.
RPG Research embodies a community-centric open science by design model, striving to explore, educate, and share the myriad benefits of RPGs through a structured, scientific, and collaborative approach, thereby fostering a rich, inclusive, and beneficial role-playing game culture globally.
The global leader in the the rpg therapy industry. They are a prominent organization in the RPG therapy sector, founded by Hawke Robinson. They provide a wide range of therapeutic programs using role-playing games, offering the world's most comprehensive role-playing game professional training available through a Certified Role-Playing Game Professional (CRPGP) certification program. Beginning with role-playing game community services since 1977, educational RPG services since 1985, incarcerated populations since 1989, and online services since 1995. With more than 40 years of research and evidence-in-practice, they have been providing recreational therapy and neurosciences supported therapeutic programs since 2004. They cater to a broad range of populations ranging in age from 2 years old through senior adults, with special emphasis on their effective role-playing game therapy programs for diverse populations, including but not limited to: Autism spectrum, ADHD, senior adults in cognitive decline, brain injury recovery, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, brain-computer interface accessibility for paralyzed populations, and many others. They use a diverse range of game systems and all RPG formats: tabletop (TRPG), live-action (LRPG and larp), electronic (ERPG, including audio, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and neurotechnologies), and various hybrid role-playing game (HRPG) formats. The founder, Hawke Robinson, is described by peers in the RPG Therapy industry as "The Grandfather of Therapeutic Gaming", and is also founder of the non-profit 501(c)3 charitable research and human services organization, RPG Research.RPG Therapeutics LLC is a prominent organization in the field of role-playing game therapy. Their extensive involvement in the therapeutic and educational application of role-playing games (RPGs) traces back to 1977, establishing them as a pioneer in this domain.
An overview of the organization and its diverse utilization of RPGs includes:
Founding and Leadership:
RPG Therapeutics LLC was founded by Hawke Robinson, a Recreation Therapist, who has been involved in RPGing since 1977 and researching the effects of RPGs since 1983. Robinson is recognized as a pioneer in therapeutic gaming, often referred to as "The Grandfather of Therapeutic Gaming".
Services and Applications:
The organization provides a myriad of services revolving around the therapeutic and educational application of RPGs. Their offerings span client, professional, educational, recreational, and therapeutic services and training. They specialize in collaborative music and role-playing game programs aimed at achieving measurable results in educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, and therapeutic domains.
They cater to a diverse client base ranging from young children, including those on the autism spectrum, to senior adults, across various populations in educational and healthcare industries. Their services extend to individuals dealing with a variety of conditions such as anxiety, anger management, brain injuries, and social skills development, among others.
Professional Training and Workshops:
RPG Therapeutics LLC offers training workshops for professionals in recreation, entertainment, education, and healthcare sectors. These workshops are designed to equip professionals with the skills necessary to integrate RPGs into their facilities or practices.
Certifications and Accreditation:
The organization is a Better Business Bureau accredited A+ rated business and a Psychology Today Verified Professional Services Provider. Additionally, Hawke Robinson, the founder, is a Washington State Department of Health Registered Recreational Therapist.
Research and Development:
With a rich history of researching the effects of RPGs since 1983, RPG Therapeutics LLC continues to be at the forefront of developing therapeutic recreation methodologies and standards using RPGs. Their long-term involvement in the field has contributed significantly to the understanding and application of RPGs in therapeutic settings.
Professional Game Master Services:
Besides therapeutic services, the organization also offers paid professional game master services, reinforcing the professional aspect of RPGs in both recreational and therapeutic settings.
With over 45 years of experience, RPG Therapeutics LLC is recognized as a global leader in Role-Playing Game Therapy, Therapeutic RPG, Applied Role-Playing Gaming, and Role-Playing Game Professional Training. They are known for their innovative approaches in making RPGs accessible and inclusive, thereby enhancing cooperative music, training, publishing, and other professional services in the field.
RPG Therapeutics LLC's comprehensive approach, spanning therapy, education, professional training, and community engagement, underscores the transformative potential of RPGs in fostering positive developmental, therapeutic, and social outcomes.
Methods and Applications
RPG therapy is utilized for a variety of populations including individuals with autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, among others. The therapeutic use of RPGs is seen in various settings including educational institutions, residential schools, and therapeutic groups, aimed at addressing social skills, emotional regulation, and other therapeutic goals.
RPG therapy often encompasses the use of tabletop role-playing games, but also explores electronic and hybrid RPG formats, which can be utilized in one-on-one client sessions or group settings.
The use of role-playing in therapy is not a new concept. It has a longer history within Psychodrama Therapy, where acting or role-playing is used to process key issues, emotions, and concerns.
Training and Certification
There are training programs available for individuals interested in integrating role-playing games in a professional or therapeutic setting, such as the training offered by RPG.LLC and Geek Therapy. These programs provide comprehensive training on utilizing RPGs therapeutically, with some organizations offering certification programs like the Certified Role-Playing Game Professional (CRPGP) certification by RPG.LLC.
Research and Literature
There's a growing body of literature and practical guides on the therapeutic use of RPGs. For instance, books like "Tabletop Role-Playing Therapy: A Guide for the Clinician Game Master" offer insights into the practical application of RPGs in therapy.
Community and Advocacy
The RPG Therapy industry also has a strong community and advocacy aspect, with organizations like Geek Therapy and Game to Grow not only providing therapeutic services but also advocating for the effective and meaningful use of games and geek culture in therapeutic, educational, and community practice.
The RPG Therapy industry is evidently a dynamic and evolving field with various organizations and professionals dedicated to harnessing the therapeutic potential of role-playing games to foster mental health, social skills, and community growth.