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GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorders

by Hawke Robinson published Nov 11, 2016 10:56 AM, last modified Nov 11, 2016 10:56 AM

 For details on this diagnosis, see the relevant section of the Recreation Therapy Handbook of Practice, the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the APA, and related sources.

W.A. Hawkes-Robinson has designed several methods when using TRPG to help address those players with a high anxiety level that is expressed through rigid conformity to the rules.

A number of “tricks of the trade” are useful for players with GAD within this RPG context.

An example for those with anxiety that manifests as “Rules Lawyer’s” and “Rules As Written” (RAW) players, typically have significant anxiety issues and the strict, rigidness in attitude about the rules is often an expression of that anxiety.

"Rules Lawyers" don't have to be ASD at all to be over the top and obnoxious, but I have learned tricks for assuaging them. I have found that those that insist on RAW/RL approach to RPG often have a very high level of anxiety. They may not be ASD at all, but actually very high anxiety levels, and the strict structure and predictability of the rules gives them control over a life that feels so scary and out of control. So threatening that order, through non-compliance or changes can really set people like that off!

The "tricks of the trade" I have come up with for such folks varies for the individual, but I spell out in advance that my games will always have some house rules and modifications to the core rules, but I elaborate the process (the rules of rules changes if you will), and to help those experiencing high anxiety, I have a dialog with them in private for options such as:

"When you have a concern that you feel will be disruptive to the flow of the game in the moment, please either pass me a post it, or if it can wait, write it down in your notebook, and then speak with me at the end of the game session, and we can discuss any of the issues."

Typically the first few sessions they will start with the post-its. Then when they see that I am responsive (usually saying that I will gladly discuss it with them during the break or end of session), and then I follow through doing so, they begin realizing their voice will be heard.

Also very important that once I do make a ruling, I am consistent in that ruling I created. After a few weeks of sessions, I have been able to assuage even the worst of the RL's, and they have been able to enjoy years-long adventures, and rarely disrupt the game play over rules arguments anymore.