Trauma informed roleplaying games

As a counsellor who’s worked with trauma in the past, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my sessions safer for the mental health and wellbeing of my clients. I strive to continue to learn and grow to develop my skills and understanding. Thats a personal commitment that I am always looking for opportunities to uphold.

I am currently developing a Consent In Gaming form; a sheet with a list of storyline and gameplay elements that may be confronting or triggering, and players can inform me of these so we can respectfully avoid them in sessions. Forms like this already exist, but as they’re geared for adults, tackle some incredibly challenging topics that aren’t appropriate for children’s groups. So I’ll be making a customised, age appropriate form for my sessions.

The Monte Cook Consent In Gaming form exists and is great! But some of these topics are confronting as hell and I don’t even want to give the impression these are remotely appropriate in my sessions.

But I still needed a tool for supporting a trauma informed session whilst in the session, and I wasn’t sure how to cover it. As a therapist I’m always open to speak about triggers and boundaries, and I do recognise this can be quite challenging for many people.

So when I was introduced to the X-Card, I was ecstatic. This is an amazing feature to implement in Roll for Growth sessions.

The X-Card is simple but effective.

The X-Card by John Stavropolous is a tool for the safety of all those at a gaming table. A simple piece of card with an X drawn on it is placed at a table. If the story being told, the combat scene being enacted, or someone’s conversation is confronting or triggering, the X-Card can be tapped. When the X-Card is tapped, whoever is speaking is required to change the topic, or de-intensify their discussion.

I’m going to make a small variety of cards with different prompts, such as “change the topic” or “slow down” in order to make things easier to understand. But this is a wonderful and subtle way for someone to say they’re uncomfortable with things and they’d like for something to happen to make it better. Many people feel anxiety with setting those boundaries for themselves, so something simple but clearly understood is amazing.

Participants will also have the option to speak with me privately if required, or we can debrief after the session if they so choose. But this is a wonderful framework I’m really happy to add to Roll for Growth sessions.

This is a subtle and significant tool, and I’m really excited to bring it to Roll for Growth. It has so much potential for personal wellbeing, and supporting empathy for others in our sessions.

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