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Therapy & Dragons – take a look at C4 Tabletop

Youth clients gathered at C4’s North Avenue facility last month for a special in-person session of C4 Tabletop.

C4 tabletop is a group designed to promote healthy expression and interpersonal communication skills through a role-playing board game similar to Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder. During the session, players are encouraged to build their own personal character who specialize in any number of game mechanics, such as incredible agility or knowing several languages. What sets C4 Tabletop apart are some of the other qualities that affect the dice roll and promote skills players are interested in developing, such as empathy and creative problem-solving. The program allows young people to work through real-world difficulties in-game and then apply those lessons back in the real world.


The C4 Tabletop board.


While the program typically online occurs over 10 weeks in 90-minute sessions, this in-person two-day session offered an opportunity for clients who had only met over Zoom to be in the same space together. This represents a step up in bringing the skills they learned in-game to their interpersonal interactions. 


“Most of the clients that participate have something on their treatment plans about wanting to engage with peers more effectively, and this is a really helpful strengths-based way to do that,” said Patrick Deloach, CBCT Supervisor. “When they play as characters, it helps them externalize some of the things that are going on for them. If things aren’t going well, then it’s your character; your character had a really bad day, how’s your character going to bounce back? And when they’re doing things really well, then we get to celebrate the player and reinforce some of their social skills that way.” 


The narrative of the current game has its players as treasure hunters in an old ruin, and they’ve just discovered that touching the treasure leads to an attack by “fire zombies.” However, Deloach says, he tries to ensure the storylines don’t get too “bogged down in violence,” while still remaining creative. 


This group of players made significant gains in teamwork and social skills over the course of the in-person session, he added. 


“At the very beginning, they were trying to test boundaries and experiment with social skills, and feeling like they were making mistakes and kind of blaming each other when they were feeling sore,” he said. “Today, we’ve seen more examples of encouraging each other, giving each other advice about what to do in the game, and promising to help each other.” 


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