Level

Up

It's a

Game Changer

 

There is growing evidence of the benefits of RPG Therapy in the management of young people with Special Educational Needs and people who have experienced psychological trauma (such as military veterans, prison inmates, complex childhood trauma). However little work has been done in the homeless population.

Level Up brings homeless clients together, once per week, and facilitates them in playing an RPG of our own design (a bit like a simplified Dungeons & Dragons) with the intention of providing an entertaining game, a creative escape, and an opportunity for positive social interaction.
 
Whilst the clients are engaging with the game, we also take the opportunity to intervene and provide training in social skills, support drug and alcohol recovery, and offer psychological therapies.

images (2).jpg

Why Game Therapy?
From our work with people residing in Camden homeless hostels it was noted that video game playing, and fantasy ‘genre’ books and films, are a popular pastime.
 
Also, RPG’s use ‘avatars’ (the in-game character) which we thought might be helpful for some clients reluctant to participate in traditional drama therapy.

 

southgate.jpg
 

Camden RPG Therapy Group was therefore established to see if RPG Therapy might be a more acceptable alternative to traditional Drama Therapy for some.

Camden RPG Therapy Group includes a specialist homelessness doctor, a specialist homelessness recovery counsellor, a professional game designer and facilitator (Games Master) and a psychologist. We will initially operate with the support of the Single Homeless Project charity in Camden.

images (1).jpg

Method
Initially two small groups (4-6 clients per group) were set up in an SHP hostel, under psychologist supervision. One group, whilst psychologically informed, offers no formal psychological therapy (as a control) whilst the other group does.
 
Quantifiable and measurable outcomes are measured in both groups and include levels of enjoyment and participation and improvement in social skills (AQA- Assessment and Qualifications Associations). Engagement with Therapeutic Treatment Plans are also measured in the formal psychological therapy group.
 

Scalability
The approach is evidence-based, and our aim is for this project to be scaled-up and run at other services across the country. We are already in contact with other services interested in replicating this model.
 

'The use of RPGs activities to help the clients model communication skills, and emotional self-regulation could be invaluable in preparing the clients for more conventional therapeutic interventions'.

Results
Camden RPG Therapy Group will present its initial data at ‘Pathways From Homelessness’ International Symposium, London on the 16/17 March 2022.

We will also share the data from this and other
Game Therapy UK projects via this site.

As a resource we will also collate and share the data and published results of other psychologists, sociologists and Universities working in this field. If you have any links to publications please let us know via the contact form below. 

Meet The Team
Camden RPG Therapy Group includes a specialist homelessness doctor, a specialist homelessness recovery counsellor, a professional game designer and facilitator (Games Master) and a psychologist. We will initially operate with the support of the Single Homeless Project charity in Camden.

Gary Colman – specialist GP in homelessness medicine.
 
Dr Gary Colman works as a GP at a specialist homeless practice in Camden. He works closely with staff at the Single Homeless Project charity, and the creative team (see below) to design Camden RPG Therapy Group.
 
Previously, he has designed and run the innovative ‘Targeted GP Outreach Project, another novel evidence-based program which has increased the health, well-being and life-expectancy of his homeless patients in Camden. After 6 years of Targeted GP Outreach the life expectancy of his homeless patients has increased from 47years to 52 years, at a time when nationally the average age of death has fallen from 47 years down to only 44 years of age.
 
In October 2021 this pioneering Outreach project won the London Homelessness Award for its work and was awarded Highly Commended in the prestigious national British Medical Journal Award in the General Practice 2021. 
 
It is hoped that similar positive outcomes will be replicated in our new project, the Camden RPG Therapy Group.
 
Gary has played RPGs since 1979 and has published several RPG games for ‘Dorks N Orks’.

DSCF3676_pp-3.jpg
bmj1432-300x100-awards-commended-11.png
lonodn homelessness award.png

Finbar Macdonald-Westall –Recovery coach.
 
Fin started working with Camden Alcohol services and trained as a recovery coach with particular interest in the neuroscience of trauma and behavioral change. For the last 5 years Fin has worked in the field of Adult complex Needs and Homelessness wth The Single Homeless Project as a Support Worker in the ‘Complex needs, and Substance-Use Homeless Hostel Pathway’ in Camden.
 
Through Fin’s work it became apparent that many of his clients experiencing homelessness had significant Complex Trauma leaving them unable to engage with formal therapy, which they found to challenging. However, using activities and simple coaching approaches he found he was able to create meaningful outcomes in the areas of self-reflection, concentration, and the positive use of their time. All of which are key skills the clients need on their recovery journey. The use of RPGs activities as social interactions to help the clients model intra, infra communication skills, and emotional self-regulation could be invaluable in preparing the clients for more conventional therapeutic interventions.
 
He has played RPGs since 1981.
 

FIN.jpg

Rupert Greyling- Artist, author, maker, and designer.
 
Rupert has worked in many disciplines and industries, each giving a slightly different perspective on the creative and communication process. Working with young people since 2007, at first presenting comic creation workshops, then later using art to engage with some of the most vulnerable children in the UK, Rupert decided to create the Goblin's Chest
 
His experience working dynamically with young people, is boosted by a frenetic imagination, and his passion for positive outcomes for kids struggling with situations out of their control.
 
“I have enjoyed my own experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons, a world-famous role game, with Rupert. Role games, when developed in a safe and creative space, can have enormous benefits for both children and adults, such as giving the opportunity for individuals to shape and express their emotions, wishes, dreams and to develop important interpersonal skills”. Claudio Parreti – Psychologist

Will Middlemoore- Game facilitator.
 

Will is both an experienced Games facilitator and player with a passion for introducing new players to the hobby.  
 
He works in teaching and helping roles, working first in outdoor activities and now in education. He has experience working with a variety of different groups including children, SEN (Special Educational Needs), Adult disabilities, and vulnerable young adults.
 
 
Mikayla Upiter- Counselling Psychologist.

Mikayla is the in-house Counselling Psychologist at SHP and will provide the psychological therapy element of the group.
 
Single Homeless Project (SHP)- Homelessness charity.

SHP is a London-wide charity. Their vision is a society where everyone has a place to call home and the chance to live a fulfilling life. Last year, despite the pandemic, they helped nearly 300 people complete education or training courses, and over 75% of their clients entering a new job remained in work for the contract length or over six months. 

RUPERT GRAYLING.jpg
goblins chest.jpg
will.jpg
1596957495313.jpg

Other Groups
Camden RPG Therapy Group has plans to expand trials across London and other parts of the UK in order to provide RPG Therapy but also to gather data and publish further evidence of efficacy. To that end we are looking at setting up similar groups in East London, Bristol, Manchester, and Northern Ireland.

 
Initially our work will be with adults experiencing homelessness, however we are in talks with other groups such as prison populations, military veterans, young people with SEN and other vulnerable groups where RPG Therapy could provide a useful tool.

If you are running a therapeutic RPG project in your area and would like to share your experience, or you're thinking of setting up a new project and would like help or advice please do get in touch via the contact form below. 

Details of other Game Therapy UK groups coming soon. 

 

Keep in touch  with us via email below.

We also have a
Game Therapy UK Community Group on Facebook for you to chat, contribute and share your thoughts.

Sign up to our
Newsletter and we'll keep you updated on any developments.

We're also partnered with the RPG show
Dorks n Orks, and check out Rupert Greyling's projects at The Goblins Chest.