wotc-savagespecies_waterfriends.jpg

  What is a Therapeutic Session?  

A Therapeutic Session is extraordinarily similar to a Therapeutic Encounter, with a few caveats.

  1. These sessions can only be conducted if a Therapist and/or Counselor is present. (I am a trained and certified Therapeutic Game Master and I will be operating in a delegated role where I provide the TTRPG session and they take Psychotherapy and Process Notes)
     

  2. A signed Authorization for third-party guest involvement must be signed (Can be found here). I am willing to work with the Therapist / Counselor on an alternative or additional form if they also have red tape requirements
     

  3. Any additional sign-off from the Therapist and/or Counselor between them and their client must be completed. Ultimately your mental health specialist need to make sure that you two are in solid agreement about this and should consider formalizing it during one of your sessions
     

  4. Once all of the 'legal' stuff is accounted for you can move onto completing the contract with The Tabletop Adventure for session scheduling and payment details. 

Sounds fun, right? Well, that's the goal! Healing should be fun!

When we partner with professional services around mental health we are often times armed with coping/soothing techniques and given homework to try and spread our wings a bit towards recovery (and/or issue management). However, the professionals cannot see how we are using those techniques, our body language when we're in situations that are triggering, or any number of other small elements that tend to be left out when they ask how "How was ________ since I last saw you?".

It's really hard to explain the roiling emotions (or lack thereof) when you were in that situation. Plus, many times, it's just easier to not get into the details and just avoid the dialogue by giving simple responses.

WotC-Draconomicon-babybronzeandfriend_ed

You might've picked up on how I've kept using the term "we" in my explanation.

That's because I've been through therapy myself. Many years of it. I've been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Severe Social Anxiety (with some other flavored toppings to go with it). I'm not cured, but I am coping and I have empathy to spare for those of you who are going through and dealing with your own issues.

Back to the original topic though... our professional support can't really help us if they don't have enough information to leverage. Well, a Therapeutic Session using D&D helps to create a really powerful opportunity!

  1. You get to play a game! It's fun and the sessions that I will run will help touch on some issues that are commonly dealt with through therapeutic methods. We'll talk a little beforehand and you can select from a list on which topic(s) should be near the top of your concern list so that we can create encounters within D&D that'll help approach those issues.
     

  2. Your professional support (Therapist & Counselors) get to observe you as you're playing the game. Are you advocating for yourself? Are you problem-solving? Showing good critical thinking skills? Negotiating? Showing Empathy?
    They can observe the choices you make (and avoid) and this will really help them help you! They'll be able to advocate for the growth you're showing and help you polish those skills, or help you approach painful points that occurred during the session and help you work through them.

     

  3. We can build on these encounters and you, partnering with your professional support, can start targeting particular learning/growth objectives as well.
     

  4. You have a wonderful buffer of 'your character' between you and the issues that might come up in game. I utilize the 'X' card along with an open discussion (lines & veils) during our first time together which is referred to as "Session 0". If things get tougher than you can handle then it's very easy to pause the game for a discussion and, if needed, to do a rewind and omit a triggering element.

So, in summary, a Therapeutic Session is a targeted D&D game that'll be fun and wonderful and enjoyable for you that also enables your professional support a new level of insight into helping you heal (or become more resilient) as an individual.

My hope is that these sessions become enjoyable topics of conversation for you and that you'll even consider seeking out standard sessions to try and connect with other players and continue to enjoy the games that I run.

    How do I get started?   

First and foremost. You must coordinate with your professional support (Therapist, Counselor, etc.). Share this page with them, talk it out and see if they are comfortable with using this approach as a tool in their practice to support you.

A large part of their role in helping you also involves documenting your session via Psychotherapy and Process Notes. So, please make sure that they are comfortable with this and help them understand that they are not 'documenting the game' but 'documenting how you are interacting with the game, with the NPCs that I create, and also with me as well as the Dungeon Master'. Roleplaying should be something that your professional support is familiar with. If they're curious for more examples or information then direct them towards the "Benefit of TTRPG" page.

Now that we've got your support on board, ask them about what they need to have in place to protect them and you legally so that a third-party guest (me) can attend your session. This part is important because I am not joining as a guest in the traditional sense.

I have prepared an "Authorization for third-party/guest involvement and release of liability" form that outlines my role during a therapeutic session that I am invited to attend. There will be a diagram a bit further down to help illustrate the process that we should follow to ensure that when I do join we are past the normal check-in questions and my joining heralds the start of the Therapeutic Encounter until our session concludes.

In a nut-shell:

  • You'll need to sign and return the authorization form I mentioned above via email so that I, you, and your professional support are covered legally.
     

  • This will enable us to then put some terms and expectations into a simple contract that will state the number of Therapeutic Encounters will be having, the goals and objectives, schedule (so that we don't have missed sessions), and payment expectations.
     

  • Your professional support will need to send me a digital invite to a telehealth (or equivalent) session. They have legal requirements with PII around who they use and how it's used, inviting me as a guest to this session works best.

    • If you are seeing your professional support in person, ask them if they are willing to log into the session from their office so that you can 'play the game' while they take notes and make observations. If it's an option, you could also connect through your mobile device and/or other device. It's important that both of you can hear me speaking.​
       

  • At the start of the session I will have things prepared on my end and the session will begin. During this time I will most likely be waiting to be let into the digital meeting room. While I'm waiting, your professional support can complete some process notes without my involvement. Once they have completed what they needed on their end, they can start the digital session and grant me the ability to share my screen.​
     

  • I'll be sure to take a moment to give a warm hello before we either start session 0 or a therapeutic encounter.
     

  • During the session you and your professional support are the drivers. If you need to pause the game to have a discussion, or ask me to end the session early, then that is perfectly fine. This is intended to be a tool for the both of you to leverage. With that said, I will advocate that your professional support allow as much of the game as possible to be played and to then use the next session to dive into them with you together.

    • I certainly hope that during that follow-up session you also discuss scheduling your next session too! At this point in time you can use the "Contact me" page on the websites front page or you can email me directly at DungeonMaster@TheTabletopAdventure.com if you want to focus on any particular elements during your next Therapeutic Session.​
       

  • We'll wrap up our session with about 5 minutes to spare and then I'll log out of the digital meeting room.

 So much text... can you make it simpler? 

Meme _kallokisser.png

Sorry! These things are stressful! The details are all found above this meme and you can come back to them when you're ready! Just don't forget that you're not alone on this journey and you can ask to walk through this with your professional support! Just tell them to come to this page and read it over together.

To simplify.

You'll need to share this website (and this page) with whomever is helping you out as a mental health provider. Have them read through it and then talk it over with you.

If you both are comfortable with proceeding then you'll need to reach out to me to get a simple contract in place. Make sure your professional support confirms their availability. Complete the contract and provide payment as needed and we'll look forward to connecting with our first session to start session0 content.

Ask your mental health provider to help explain (or handle) the form. They can contact me via email and share any forms or questions. I just ask that they reference you via whatever email you used to sign-up on this website or which one we worked together to complete the contract. You can focus on looking at cool stuff on the internet, reading about what character you want to play, and getting hyped for the Session 0 content where we get everything set up for actual game play.