Dr Megan Connell is a Licensed Psychologist & Therapeutic Dungeon Master who utilizes games in her therapeutic practice to help people deal with their issues. She agreed to take a break from her good work to fill us in about the work she is doing.
Q How did you first start using gaming as a therapeutic tool?
I started playing TTRPGs again in 2016 and pretty quickly after starting I realized how much I was learning about myself as a result of playing. I wanted to use it to help my clients as I felt that these games had a way of helping to show our issues to us in a way that got past our defenses. I soon after started running applied gaming groups and the rest is history as they say!
Q Had you been a player of RPG’s before you stated using them in your practice?
Yes I started playing TTRPGs when I was in middle school then took a very long hiatus from playing and came back to them in 2016. I greatly enjoy playing and being in campaigns. I think it is important to play as well as run campaigns so you have a feel for what it is like on both sides of the screen.
Q What do you think are the biggest benefits to utilizing games? What people can get the most out of the treatment?
There are a lot of benefits to using TTRPGs in therapy. One of them being that playing TTRPGs is a reinforcing activity and those who are in the game are going to be highly motivated to continue to play and participate in the games. One of the biggest challenges with therapy groups is getting people to attend and by tying a therapy group to a game it seems to help motivate the participants to attend and actively participate in group which gives the group members more opportunities to interact with the therapeutic interventions being taught.
I believe that a wide array of diagnoses can benefit from appleid gaming. I believe that the biggest predictors of the success of applied gaming is the person’s willingness to engage with the game. As long as someone is willing to engage with the material there is a chance for them to get something out of the process. So it seems to be more of an individual factor that will predict success over a factor such as diagnosis or age.
Q You have worked with Leyline Geek Therapeutics in producing materials for other practitioners are counselors and psychiatrist using open to this kind of techniques?
More and more the answer seems to be yes! There are always going to be those who geek and gaming therapy is not a good fit for and they likely will never want to learn about it just because it is not something they are interested in. However, more and more people do seem to be interested in finding ways to use geek culture in therapy to include gaming as part of therapy. It might take a while for other instructions to be open to using geek culture and gaming in therapy but I believe eventually even entities such as the American Psychological Association (APA) will recognize the importance of geek and gaming therapy.
Q If someone thinks this might be helpful, what is the best way to find a person who utilizes it or introduce it to their therapist?
On the Geek Therapeutics webpage there is a provider locator that can help you find providers in your area, or who are able to work in your area remotely, that can help you!
Q I saw you have a book, Tabletop Role-Playing Therapy Guide for the Clinician Game Master, coming out. What made you decide to write it?
I knew it was something that I wanted to write about and when I was approached by Norton I felt that it was time to start writing the book. My hope is that the book can act as a catalyst to get more people interested in applied gaming and to get more research done on the use of tabletop games in therapy.
Q} if people want more info about you or using games as therapy where should they go?
HQPsyc.com is the webpage for my therapy practice in Charlotte NC and there are links on the page to get in contact with me and to consult about applied gaming. I’m on all the social media platforms as MeganPsyD.
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
I mean realistically probably I would not survive but if I did I would be hunkered down with my family and a group of others farming and taking care of one another.
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
The folks in tabletop gaming. There is so much fan created content and so many people encouraging one another it is just a really cool space to be in.
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
All humans need to read Victor Frankel’s book Man’ Search for Meaning it is an incredible book with powerful life lessons in it.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I have actually worked as an instructor for two different sports!