Review: Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness from The Bodhana Group

Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness by Jack Berkenstock and Baron Blakley from The Bodhana Group is a wonderful intro to therapeutic tabletop RPGs whether you’re a therapist or layperson and experienced or new to applied gaming.

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What is Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness

Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness: The Therapeutic Application of Role-Playing Games is a short (34 pages) guide that walks you through what TTRPGs are, the many different ways that they can benefit players, and how to use these games in a therapeutic setting.  

It gives practical and real examples of how TTRPGs have been used with players already and clearly outlines in text, graphical, and character-based formats, what skills can be developed by using tabletop RPGs (so there’s several ways to connect with the material). 

This book covers the basics of setting up a game and gives an overview of TTRPG applications for different common diagnoses and conditions that most facilitators would probably focus on. 

Who would Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness be great for?

Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness is for both the layperson to gain an understanding of how TTRPGs can be used in a therapeutic sense and for trained professionals to start building a foundation for using applied TTRPGs in their practice.  

While this can be a good overview for laypersons who are looking for more information, there is a very clear disclaimer that only trained professionals should be using these methods to address mental health concerns so as not to exacerbate existing conditions or create new triggering situations for your players.

That said, TTRPGs naturally offer a lot of therapeutic benefits even when they are not specifically used for therapy, so this guide can be a fantastic resource for helping to understand those elements of TTRPGs more deeply.

How Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness lays the foundation for applied TTRPGs 

Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness is written with accessible language and is a length that feels manageable for most people to read without getting overwhelmed, so, first, it provides a way for people to learn about applied TTRPGs and get a good balance of overview and detail in a short period of time. 

It breaks down topics into manageable chunks with picture/character queues, so it’s easy to follow, hone in on, and come back to core topics that are critical for creating a base to build your TTRPGs from.  I particularly liked how the benefits section had characters to represent each skill being practiced because it adds some fun creativity to the explanation, breaks up the text, and helps with recall when you have a picture or a character that you remember attached to a specific topic – it locks in those themes so readers can remember and connect with them more deeply for later use.

The section on specific diagnoses also sets you up for success by giving a quick description of the condition, explaining the inherent benefits of TTRPGs that can help someone with that diagnosis, and providing tips on what to look out for and how to adjust games for players with these diagnoses in about the span of one page each, so all of your information is in one spot and can be quickly reference later.

My overall thoughts on Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness

Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness is a fantastic starting guide for clinicians to see if applied TTRPGs are something that they want to dive further into or for laypersons to gain a better understanding of TTRPGs (and see if they want to pursue applied gaming with a therapist or counselor).  

I found it very easy to understand, it took me maybe 30 minutes to read from start to end, and in that time, it gave a wonderful overview of applied TTRPGs.  I would definitely recommend checking this guide out if you’ve ever considered using TTRPGs to help your players, either therapeutically or in any other sense (since there are many ways to apply TTRPGs outside of therapeutics as well).  

I also very much like that this guide helps support the mission that The Bodhana Group is on – promoting therapeutic TTRPG use and research for the benefit of all.  

I hope you get a chance to check the guide out and that it helps you understand and grow within your games!

Find a copy of Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness

You can find a copy of Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness through DriveThruRPG!

Also, check out my interview with Jack, one of the authors of Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness here where he and I chat about The Bodhana Group and the benefits of applied TTRPGs!

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