What is Dungeon & Dragons (D&D) or a roleplaying game?
A roleplaying game (RPG) is like a combination of a cooperative board game, storytelling, and improvisational acting. In the game, a group of players make up characters with different strengths and abilities, and join together to resolve a common problem. Another player--the Game (or Dungeon) Master--describes the settings and conflicts that the other players face. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is considered the original, and most popular, RPG. D&D characters embody fantasy heroes, like wizards and elves, who are usually tasked with overcoming an evil threat. For more information, visit https://dnd.wizards.com/dungeons-and-dragons/what-is-dd.
What ages are D&D appropriate for?
D&D sets suggest 12+, probably because the role of Game Master is a complex one. For players, I have worked with nine-year-olds, and the rules can be simplified for even younger participants. Considering if your child could play a board game for an hour or two would be a reasonable indicator for if they are ready for D&D.
Is D&D safe?
As a form of storytelling, D&D is best considered like any other media--as safe and mature as the authors allow it to be. We can all think of books and movies that are beneficial for kids, and ones that could be harmful to them--roleplaying games are the same. A D&D game played by a group of adults should look different than a one played by kids. Dragon Haven groups set shared expectations for appropriate content, and are moderated by a therapist to ensure player safety.
Do I need to know how to play D&D before signing up for Dragon Haven?
No! Dragon Haven walks players through every step and provides resources to make characters and play the game. Experienced players are encouraged to guide new players, and to adjust their own expectations (every D&D game is played a little differently).
Therapeutic Roleplaying Games
What social skills can D&D improve?
As a very interactive and cooperative activity, D&D can help players develop many different skills. A brief list could include problem-solving, teamwork/collaboration, communication, self-expression, empathic thinking, and frustration tolerance. Therapists have been using roleplaying models to teach these skills for decades. By adding them to a roleplaying game, you get an enjoyable structure that players return to over and over again.
Who do you serve?
Anyone who wants to improve their social skills, or learn more about this recreational activity. Specific groups are usually offered in response to client interest (for example, a young adult group would need several interested clients in order to launch).
My services are provided in English, and participants will need expressive and receptive language skills appropriate to working with me and their peers in a group setting.
What are your credentials?
I am a recreational therapist (CTRS), having earned my Masters in Recreational Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University and certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (https://www.nctrc.org/). Before starting Dragon Haven, I worked as a recreational therapist at Yale-New Haven Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient Services, YNHH Children’s Day Hospital, and the adult and geriatic psychiatric departments at Bridgeport Hospital. Before my certification, I worked extensively with youth development programs such as The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Hopkins School’s Adam Kreiger Adventure Program, youth services with the cities of New Haven and Bristol, and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.
What diagnoses do you treat?
I don’t treat certain diagnoses; I work with clients to improve functional abilities. During assessment, I ask clients and their caregivers about what goals they wish to achieve, and the challenges they anticipate as they work towards their goals. Interventions (i.e. scenarios set in the game to challenge players) are then designed with the practice and implementation of those goals in mind. While much of my experience is in working with kids with ASD, ADHD, depression or anxiety, most people can use Dragon Haven to grow into the hero they wish to be.
Can Dragon Haven replace individual therapy?
Dragon Haven offers therapeutic recreation, and it should be considered supplement, not an alternative, to psychiatric treatment or other prescribed therapies. For an excellent overview of therapeutic recreation, please visit https://www.atra-online.com/page/AboutRecTherapy
Who else is offering therapeutic roleplaying games?
Across the country, mental health professionals are awakening to the possibilities of applying roleplaying games as therapeutic interventions. Leaders in this field include Game to Grow (gametogrow.org), The Bodhanna Group (thebodhanagroup.org), and Megan Connell, PsyD (meganpsyd.com).
What age groups do you serve?
Most of my current groups are for kids ages 9-17 and young adults ages 18-25. I will provide specific groups for other ages in response to client demand.
Can I join a group that has already started?
Possibly, if there is a vacancy and I determine it is best for you and the other group members. Please contact me to discuss.
Can I join a group with my sibling/friend?
I hope so! Please contact me so we can work out mutually beneficial arrangements.
Why was the group I registered for postponed or canceled?
A group may be postponed/canceled if enough participants did not register for the group. You will be placed on the waitlist until enough participants are available to meet at a convenient time.
Can you do a private group (like for my family or club)?
Sure! Please contact me to discuss your needs.
How are bills determined and paid?
Participants select a group and register for the entire series (typically 6-14 weeks). You will receive an invoice through Square.com for the entire amount (so a ten-week group at $45/week would have a single invoice for $450).
Can I try before I buy?
Absolutely! In addition to offering free introductory sessions, invoices are due no sooner than 48 hours after the first session of a group. If you don’t think it’s right for you, you can cancel with no obligation.
Do you offer discounts?
I desire for my services to be accessible to anyone, and will work with you to offer subsidized rates based on financial need. Please contact me to request a needs-based discount.
Active participants will be "locked-in" at their current rates should Dragon Haven's rates increase.
Do you take insurance?
No, not at this time. However, many of my participants are reimbursed for Dragon Haven services through their local, state or provincial service providers, such as New York's Self Direction program. I am happy to provide any supplemental information required for participants to take advantage of these programs.
Where can I read more about the rules?
The internet has so many resources for D&D. Dragon Haven utilizes DnDBeyond.com for many digital resources. For a brief overview: https://www.dndbeyond.com/essentials. For everything you need: https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules. Dragon Haven players also receive access to additional subscriber content.
Why do you run your game differently than how my friend does?
Every game runs differently, based on player experience and preference. There is no “right” way to play D&D.
Why are your games so hard?
For me, I want players to realize two things: your actions have consequences, and we learn best when overcoming challenges. D&D should be fun--it usually is!--but my games put learning first. (But need a hint to make it easier? Ask your teamates for their help.)
Can we play using different rules?
Yes, sometimes. I invite any player to introduce “house rules” for consideration by myself and the other players in their group.
Why can’t I play as _____ and where is the magic sword I added to my character sheet?
Bring all of your creative ideas and we’ll try to fit them in! However, we still need to balance all the characters so no one player has a super-powered hero that makes the other players feel left out.
What if I don’t like the character I made anymore?
You can make a new character when we start a new group. We want to balance our own fun with the immersion and relationships that other players are developing with their characters.
Playing D&D Online
What technology do I need for online groups?
Ideally, a desktop or laptop computer with webcam and microphone, and internet. We regularly use 2-3 webpages while we play, so a larger screen (or multiple screens) make it a lot easier than a smartphone.
Where do I find dice?
If you don’t have your own set of polyhedral dice (available from game stores and online), you can use a digital dice roller like this one: https://www.wizards.com/dnd/dice/dice.htm.
How do I join the DnD Beyond campaign and access the rules and my character sheet?
You can make a dndbeyond.com account for free, but I will email you a private link to join our group’s campaign page, where you can see our group notes and create/access your character sheet. You can access those pages at any time through the site menu.
Where is the link for the virtual meeting?
I use Google Calendar and Google Meet to schedule and host our virtual meetings. Private links are emailed to adults, and can be emailed to children upon request.
Should I make my own character before joining a Dragon Haven group?
Only if you want to! I would definitely encourage you to read about the character options and experiment with DnDBeyond’s character creation, and if you make a character you love, we can put it in the campaign. Please understand that the Game Master may have to make some small changes to it. Many of our players have never played before, so we do start from the beginning.