Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Aaron Suomala-Folkerds, Dr. Jessica Brown


Dungeons and Dragons, creativity, mental health, counseling, role-play, therapy


Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a role-playing game that gives players’ versatility by allowing them to dictate, customize, or create their own experience. There are many different iterations of role-playing games with varying presentations for in-person and online play; table-top role-playing games and video games (Connell, 2024) (Kowal et al, 2021). Through the 3 pillars of play (Exploration, Role-play, and Combat) player are able to customize their own experience to their preference or collective preference of the group. The balance between the 3 frames of play (Player, Game, and Character) optimizes the players role-playing experience (Connell, 2023). D&D is the first table-top role-playing game to be created, and after a history of stigma it’s still being played today in the form of its fifth edition 5 decades later (Dungeons & Dragons, 2021) (Sidhu et al., 2020) (Biskin et al, 2015). D&D can facilitate high levels of creativity and empathy, promoting friendships, feelings of connectedness, exploring varying lifestyle models, balance group needs, and moral reasoning (Henrich & Worthington, 2017). The introduction of a fourth frame of play, psychological theory, has made a base for intertwining counseling and D&D as a new therapeutic intervention (Boccamazzo and Connell, 2020). Play therapy, psychodrama therapy, and narrative therapy are viable counseling approaches for the therapeutic application of D&D. Counselors are also able to insert other therapeutic interventions within the game play of D&D sessions. Counselors have to build competence in therapeutic theory and their understanding of D&D to use this game as a therapeutic invention with their clients (Connell, 2023).



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