Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft, Ph.D., LISW


Social Work


Millions of adolescents in the United States face childhood trauma and its sequelae, and group therapy is a common treatment. The purpose of this project was to examine the field of role-playing game design with an eye toward developing future group therapy methods for adolescents with trauma histories. Using a qualitative textual analysis research design that was a mix of grounded theory and content analysis, two contemporary role-playing game texts, Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, were analyzed. The text was coded, and themes were generated to organize the findings. Findings indicated that RPGs and group therapy share a great deal structurally. In addition, RPGs provide a way to approach triggering material in a safe way, through a fictional avatar. Findings also suggested that these RPG texts teach users how to play the game in a clear manner that could be helpful for future writers of group therapy manuals to emulate. These findings indicate that RPGs are a potentially fruitful field in which to develop new group therapy methods, and that these games would provide excellent starting points for such therapies.

Included in

Social Work Commons