TL;DR: How can I use DW as a therapy tool? A way to benefit people?

TL;DR: How can I use DW as a therapy tool? A way to benefit people?

TL;DR: How can I use DW as a therapy tool? A way to benefit people?

I believe in Dungeon World. When I first started playing Tabletop RGPs, I started with Legend ([ It’s a great system, with lots of cool powers and abilities. But it is very much a rules-heavy game, with a grid, turn order, and precise XP, levelling, etc.

Since our group switched to DW, a change has occurred. We’re starting to become better friends. The accessibility of DW has allowed me to include people who NEVER would have tried “DnD” otherwise. We’ve grown into a community, with players gaining confidence and GMing for other players, etc.

This growth has got me excited, and gotten me thinking. What does this say about the power of DW and other narrative driven games to benefit people? Dungeon World Therapy? Has anyone ever attempted this? Within the next 2-3 weeks, my girlfriend and I will start running regular games for some kids at the YMCA. I hope that ends up being fun. Here are some of the benefits and challenges that I can see:


• Provides a sense of agency. Especially today, many teens and kids struggle with feelings of depression and self-worth. Taking care of and role-playing as a character can better help them take care and “role-play” in real life.

• Creativity and improvisation. Players are encouraged to come up with creative solutions for problems, just like in real life; not to mention creativity in backstories, plot, expositions, etc.

• Public speaking and good communication skills.

• Positive social interactions, teamwork, and lasting friendships that otherwise wouldn’t happen


• Limited group size: I can only run a game for 4-5 people.

• Huge time investment: It’s hard to schedule regular 2-5 hour time slots

So, anyone got any thoughts? What about tailoring a game for a specific person/problem? How could I run a game for someone struggling with addiction/depression/etc? I would LOVE to figure this out, because I believe in Dungeon World.

6 thoughts on “TL;DR: How can I use DW as a therapy tool? A way to benefit people?”

  1. Haha, no, I’m NOT a therapist. But I enjoy reaching out to people, and creating a community of support and encouragement. 

    In college, I started a video game club, and many of the people who came said that if it wasn’t for this club, and the people in it, they would not have made may friends.

    I’d like to apply tabletop RPGs in the same way. Create a positive environment for people to participate in.

  2. I think role playing games can help with self-esteem and other benefits you mention above. Dungeon World makes rpgs very fast, easy, and accessible.

    Role playing has been used in therapy for decades, from the inception. It is used to tackle specific issues and to work out situations.

    I personally would not attempt to do any therapy rp without training tho. Have fun with a rpg can do wonders alone, for the non-trained. I think that a therapist could use rpgs, especially with youth, to great effect.

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