Right next to where I have just moved to in Raanana, Israel is an organization called Romach. Romach runs role-playing games as therapy for troubled kids.
Disclaimer: I am planning some joint gaming events with Romach.
The organizers have enlisted a psychiatrist and some therapists for the project. They trained them as to how RPGs work (their RPG of choice is Warhammer Fantasy; 4e is too combat oriented) and they received training on how to run the sessions to ensure that each child encounters situations that can help them work through issues. The sessions, and the club, look nothing like therapy, which is the point.
The therapy is supplemental to general therapy, and it is not intended for children with serious therapeutic problems. They are looking to expand their services to the army for leadership training.
Since they already had a club lying around, Romach also runs Warhammer and Magic events, represents WoW TCG in Israel, and is starting up board game events.
This is fantastic news, especially considering that there’s a very anti-RPG attitude among the Israeli military (http://theescapist.com/archive-IDF.htm ), where they consider roleplayers too emotionally imbalanced to be trusted with high security clearance. It’s nice to see the same thing being used to help people – it’s almost like a logical response to the misinformed attitudes.
Please keep us posted on this, I’d love to hear more about it. I’m going to link to this on my roleplaying advocacy blog – theescapist.com/blog
This is great news. It is exactly why we began the RPG Research project, to use scientific methods establishing the therapeutic aspects of role playing games, and developing a therapeutic modality. Alas I can’t read the site, so please do keep us posted on how this unfolds. Feel free to comment on what we’re doing along these lines at http://www.rpgresearch.com