Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

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

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Jessica Toft


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.


role play, role-playing games, adolescents, trauma, game therapy, teenagers

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.