All About The Bodhana Group
What does BODHANA (BO-donna) mean?
Bodhana means "to lead to awakening or enlightenment." We felt this word perfectly captured our vision of helping people discover their own path through education, discussion and compassion.
What does The Bodhana Group believe?
The Bodhana Group advocates the use of tabletop gaming as a directed therapeutic and clinical practice that can benefit personal growth as well as enhance social and educational services to individuals and families.
Basically, we believe that the inherent benefit one gets from playing games can be focused and utilized to make one better. Better at math or reading. Better at socializing or emotional expression. Better at coping skills. Better at life.
Recognizing the need for holistic treatment, the Bodhana Group seeks to improve the continuum of care to those served by the human services field by researching and developing best practices, educating the community and facilitating the implementation of innovative programs. The Bodhana Group was officially incorporated on May 4th, 2009 as a non-profit corporation in the state of Pennsylvania. We are overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of experienced Human Services professionals and members of the community who champion the vision of our organization.
The Bodhana Group advocates the use of tabletop games as a form of adjunct therapy, specifically in the area of play therapy. Board, card, dice, and role playing games all inherently provide the opportunity to build skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, socialization, manual dexterity, deductive reasoning, etc. The list goes on. Role playing and storytelling games provide a nurturing and safe environment where people can work through trauma, anxiety, and other emotional issues.
Our organization was born out of necessity. The founders all worked together for years at a residential treatment facility for boys aged 10 - 21, who were there for committing sexual and/or habitual offenses (assault, stealing, drug dealing, weapons, etc.). In 2009, our parent company decided to close all of their facilities in PA, due to recession. We suddenly found ourselves laid off, with diminishing options. One month later, a program director, three therapists, two supervisors and two direct care staff began putting together our ideas for The Bodhana Group.
We began in the area of providing training and program consultation specifically in the area of juvenile sexual offenders. That was the crux of our experience and services were slow to catch up to treating kids with these kinds of problems. However, we were having a tough time fundraising. Start-up grants were hard to find and personal donations even harder, considering the economy at the time. Everyone was penny pinching. Human service organizations were doing more in-house training, due to budget cuts. We were struggling.
Then we had an idea for a fundraiser: A role playing game convention. We were all gamers, we knew people who would pay for a game marathon, it seemed within reach. That first Save Against Fear convention, with 35 people, we started hearing stories. Stories about how gaming had helped people. How role playing books inspired their interest to read as a child. How the character they created in the game had traits of the character they strive to be in life. How their game group had become the most important social group they had in their life. It was inspiring. So The Bodhana Group switched gears. We had found our path: Therapeutic Tabletop Gaming. We currently have four Master's level therapists. one Master's level licensed therapist, multiple teachers, administrators, and direct care professionals all volunteering their time to forward Bodhana.
The Bodhana Group takes the massive library of games available and focuses on how to play these games with the intent of building skills, while keeping the fun factor. Traditionally, "therapeutic" games are often a bit too on point, focusing more on function over design. The kids we worked with in residential and outpatient treatment settings were often unresponsive and didn't want to play these games. We began playing mainstream board games with them to help during homework help groups. They were able to pick up concepts that they had been struggling with, such as applied math and resource management, and see them applied in a game. When we tried role playing games, we had kids who had refused to speak to each other and were even violent at times, now working together to keep their story going. That bonding continued into "real" life. They helped each other stay out of trouble so that one of them wouldn't miss out on the next game session, their friendship continuing to grow.
We now offer free structured game programs for kids, adults, and seniors. Programs designed to improve social skills, education, critical thinking, resiliency, and creativity through game play and discussion. We also offer private role playing therapy groups, under the supervision of a licensed therapist, for a fee. This is a form of group therapy meant to assist in dealing with more intense emotional issues in a safe setting. Our current projects include a book for parents, teachers, and youth workers instructing them how to utilize tabletops games for skills development, a game rating system and database that allows people to search for games based on the skill they are seeking to improve, and our long-term goal of having our own community center one day.
How can The Bodhana Group help you?
Professional & Community Training & Consultation
The Bodhana Group supports the training and development of parents, guardians, caretakers, and professionals in the fields of Human Services, Education, and Community Programs. Our approach is focused and customized to the needs of the
organization served, engaging participants in discussions and activities designed to put them at ease when examining topics that are new or may be of a sensitive nature.
From elementary schools and homeschool groups to retirement communities and hospitals, The Bodhana Group is ready to bring tabletop games to you! We offer free gaming events open to the public, private game groups meant to focus on specific skills, and consultation services on how you can incorporate the therapeutic value of gaming into your program.
Research & Development
The Bodhana Group is currently working on an adjunct treatment model incorporating role playing games that will include a book for parents and therapists alike, a set of workbooks and therapeutic modules, and a regular videocast that seeks to bring together other professionals who are utilizing tabletop games.
How can you help The Bodhana Group?
We are currently seeking those who are passionate about what we do and who are willing to channel that enthusiasm into guiding Bodhana's mission. Please submit our application or contact us for more information.
The Bodhana Brigade – Run your own public game event all year long in support of the Bodhana Group. Stay tuned for open applications this summer!
Save Against Fear – Sign up today to be a GM or Event Volunteer for Save 2016. We’re looking for role playing and board game leaders. This is our first year offering an exclusive GM/Volunteer Kit and a ticket discount!
One of our passions at Bodhana is our constant search for that great story about how tabletop gaming has helped your life. We love all of them. The inspirational stories about how role playing got their child to read or help them through their social anxiety. The creative stories that share fun ways to use board games to help overcome behavioral or educational obstacles. The sentimental stories that tell of how role playing through grief or trauma has significantly changed lives.
We will treat your stories with respect and anonymity.
Unless otherwise specified, we will always list contributors as anonymous.
We will not sell any personal information or contributions.
We will use them as testimonials of support:
In our therapeutic role playing book and workbooks as real-life examples
As part of our website, social media, and marketing
Please consider telling us your story. Short, long, simple, or adventurous. Tell us how tabletop gaming has improved your life or the life of someone you love.
The Bodhana Group is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contact us at to obtain a donation receipt and EIN number.
Monetary Donations go directly to funding our community education and game groups, ongoing projects including the development of a treatment model utilizing role playing games, and long-term visions like our community gaming center. All of our people are unpaid volunteers who work hard to make the dream come true.
Monetary Donations are always welcome via:
Paypal – payable to
Razoo – The Bodhana Group
Personal Check – Payable to The Bodhana Group
Alternate arrangements may be made by contacting us at
Product Donations of tabletop games, role playing books, gamer gear and crafts, and related products are used as prize support for fundraisers such as Save Against Fear, Operation Loot Chest, and other single day game events. Board games are also used to expand our game library for when we run game groups for foster families, schools, and libraries. Contact us at for more information.
The Bodhana Group
527 Madison Avenue
York, PA 17404