Back to Program: April 25 | April 26 | April 27 | Pre-recorded Sessions

“Always Bring Your Dice” Re-imagining Training with Disability Focused D&D

Alexander Nicholls, Leanna Scheitrowsky

Date: April 27, 2023

Lecture: 9:00am-9:15am 

Q&A: 9:15am-9:25am


Utilizing a combination of supportive modalities from art therapy and other service disciplines, as well as some of the role-playing game mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), we set out to ask the question “Could Tabletop Roleplaying Games become a tool in the support of those with disabilities accessing training and services?” Engaging staff at Ontario Technical University (OTU) in a pilot project – an adventuring group of support staff was formed by creating characters and playing D&D. This group was particularly focused on the game’s potential to develop new skills and create supportive networks amongst participants. OTU staff from multiple units were led through nine, weekly, two-hour workshops and game sessions – in order to create characters and explore the imaginary game world with the specific aim of seeing if there might be any related benefits to the experience that could be adapted for use in their own work.

This discussion panel will share some of the stories and outcomes discovered along the journey as we adventure together into the wild frontier of our imaginations. No matter whether you are facing a fictional Owlbear, a real life employment prospect or an unresponsive accessibility system – the opportunity to take on a worthy cause (alongside other supportive members of your community) is a valuable skill to develop. D&D in a group setting can be utilized in everyday life to achieve goals that might otherwise be beyond reach to disabled participants.

Presentation slides: PPT | PDF

About the Speakers

Alexander Nicholls

Alex Nicholls (he/him) is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) dTATI (cand.). He is a student art therapist who is passionate about using imaginative stories to support participants in discovering their own paths to health and healing.

Combining storytelling with the creative freedom available through art, Alex gently encourages participants to express themselves and gain new perspectives, allowing a greater sense of self-identity and building resilience. While studying at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute (TATI) Alex explored the use of role playing games alongside art therapy. He now supports participants in using their own strengths and imaginations to tackle life challenges, recognize their abilities, and express who they truly are.

Supporting a diverse range of clients in various social locations, Alex believes in a trauma-informed, strengths-based, person-centered and anti-oppressive approach towards therapy and support.

Alex lives with his partner Meghan and their two cats Henry and Lincoln in Mississauga ON, Canada.

Instagram 1 | Instagram 2

Alex is a white male presenting person with short brown hair, blue eyes and a beard, in this picture he is smiling and wearing a blue and red plaid, collared shirt. His hair has a part on the right side as you look at him. The background in this photo is an indistinct office environment.

Leanna Scheitrowsky

Leanna Scheitrowsky (she/her) is a RP (Qualifying), dTATI (cand.). I am an art therapy facilitator that practices a trauma-informed, client-centred, relational-cultural approach to psychotherapy. My goal as a facilitator is to create inclusive, non-judgemental, accessible, anti-oppressive spaces where group members can connect and hold space for each other through collaborative storytelling RPGs (role-playing games) and art invitations.

I was introduced to tabletop RPGs as a hobbyist but early in my art therapy training, I began integrating aspects of D&D into sessions with clients as a way to access and explore their inner world.

Personal profile

Leanna is a female presenting person with long brown hair and straight bangs the front, she has green eyes and fair skin, as well as two nose rings. In this picture she is wearing a white shirt/blouse with the collar buttoned up and 3 simple necklaces. The background shows black with a golden tree-like pattern.