MEET THE BODHANA GROUP

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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?

Our Vision:

The Bodhana Group advocates for and utilizes 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.  Gaming has usefulness in education, skill building and therapeutic applications.  

 

We believe that the inherent benefit one gets from playing games not only helps people develop valuable skills in the background while playing, but that benefit can be enhanced and amplified through targeted and focused intention.  Gaming also acts as a passport for people to develop social supports and connections.  By being able to speak the language of gaming, they can use that language to engage better with others. 

 

Our Mission:

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.

 

Our Story:

The Bodhana Group advocates the use of tabletop games as a unique technique of therapy and treatment.  Therapeutic use of tabletop games is an approach that is rooted within a foundation of other research validated modalities, such as CBT, REBT, DBT, narrative therapies and drama 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 through the medium of play that replicates and borrows from other techniques.  

Our organization was born out of the need for change. The original founders worked together at a residential treatment facility for boys aged 10 - 21, who were there for rehabilitation and treatment for sexually problematic behaviors  as well as  habitual offenses (assault, stealing, drug dealing, weapons, etc.). In 2009, our parent company decided to close all of their facilities in PA, due to changing trends within the industry. 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 our journey by providing training and program consultation specifically in the area of juveniles with sexually problematic behaviors. That was the crux of our experience and services were slow to catch up to treating clients with these issues. 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.

The Bodhana Group takes the massive library of tabletop 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 therapy and less on play. The kids we worked with 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 started playing 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 growing. 

We started diving into these early lessons learned about the power of gaming and embarked on a path of deciphering how gaming can be fine tuned to provide direct support and services that engage clients differently.  We started by examining how gaming had changed us, then we married these observations with our clinical experience.  A new path lay before us.  Embracing this change of direction, The Bodhana Group since then has grown.  We have spoken at international conventions, developed a robust training program, and have brought this unique vision of treatment through engaged and directed play to multitudes of people.  

We now offer a diverse range of services utilizing modern tabletop gaming.  Our services, projects and programs include: 

  • Tabletop Role Playing Groups targeting:

    • Social skills

    • Challenging behaviors

    • Anxiety, Depression and other mental health diagnoses

    • Challenges for persons on the Autism Spectrum

  • Training and consultation for professionals and agencies for:

    • Learning how to run therapeutic role playing games​

    • Developing their own game-based programs

    • Managing challenges to game-based programs

  • Board Game based programs to help develop and enhance foundational skills

  • Unique programs for varying populations

  • Team Building Activities

  • Research into the efficacy of role playing as a therapeutic approach

  • Save Against Fear Gaming Convention/Conference

  • Our in development role playing game Branch Riders, designed for fun, but built for therapeutic and skill building use

  • Paid webinars for professionals to enhance use of RPG in therapy

  • Free webinars for the community on the benefits of board games

Your support and patronage through donation allows us to further expand and develop our services and cover operating costs.  Some of our goals and future direction include:

  • Grant funded groups to offer services at low to no cost for clients and their families

  • Establishment of a community center offering game based programs

  • Attendance and participation in larger conferences/conventions

  • The authoring of a guidebook for practitioners in using therapeutic RPG

  • Our own Twitch and YouTube channels featuring programs that share what we have learned

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.

 

Tabletop Gaming
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?

Board Membership

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. 

 

Game Leaders

  • 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. We’re looking for role playing and board game leaders. 

 

Storytellers

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.  thebodhanagroup@gmail.com

Donations

The Bodhana Group is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contact us at thebodhanagroup@gmail.com 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:

 

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 thebodhanagroup@gmail.com for more information.

 

Mailing Address:  

The Bodhana Group

527 Madison Avenue

York, PA 17404