Emotional disabilities impact a player’s ability to take on specific storytelling components, but may also impact interactions between players, environment, and self. 

Quick Guidance

  • Ensure a greater likelihood of a safe environment by encouraging positive reinforcement among players, and reducing tolerance of negative interactions. Drama can always occur within game environments, but should be limited to healthy, respectful, discussion, unless specifically engaging in therapeutic role play.
  • Consider a safe word or action to alert yourself audibly and/or visibly with regard to a player’s level of discomfort. Pre-existing safety tools are available and can be found online. At the point in which a player flags their concern, you may potentially need to disengage from gameplay, confirm if the player is doing okay, and potentially pivot if necessary.  Otherwise, depending the method of interaction, pivoting without alerting or stopping game play may be necessary in order to not highlight the incident to other players.
  • Be aware of indicators that might signal distress. This information can be gathered in advance from pre-session  meetings, as each individual might have unique indicators. Some emotional distress may be common, however, and mild nonverbal pauses to confirm comfort may be necessary.
  • Never force engagement, regardless of rules or turn order or any component of the game. Rules of the game should never override a player’s emotional needs. Allow time for a player to engage, if they can, and plan for  alternatives if a turn must be skipped. Don’t rush a player. Provide them time and space.
  • If at all possible, consider a private, safe location a person may move to in order to provide them a level of safe composure or equilibrium.
  • Primarily for children or players with caregivers: Communicate regularly with counselors or caregivers about game sessions and conditions off the table.

Possible Articles

  • Desires comfort items or conditions (sounds, visuals, objects)
  • Displays emotional responses seemingly abstract from the conditions that could cause it
  • Aversion to change – Environment, People, Objects
  • Generalized sadness typically associated with a Depressive state often with an inability to be consoled
  • Anxiety or Dysphoria
  • Emotional Variety changes with little to no warning
  • Emotional lethargy often due to physical and emotional factors
  • Unhealthy emotional responses to diet
  • Consumed with thoughts of mortality, self harm, or suicide
  • Reduced or lack of desire to engage or participate.
  • Specific Fears – Germaphobia,
  • Claustrophobia, etc, that needs specialized consideration
  • Generalized unpredictable, unprecedented, or newly formed fears often associated with triggers
  • Feeling of being overwhelmed when too much direction is provided
  • Difficulty with unexpected sudden external stimulation. Loud sounds, flashes, movement
  • Overwhelming need to control immediate environment (organization, atmosphere)
  • Lack of emotional responses or appearance of emotionless nature
  • Belief or perception in intangible nonexistent things – Hallucinations, Delusions
  • Uncontrollable Paranoia or Insecurity
  • Decline in ability to resolve or make decisions
  • Easily moving toward agitation, irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Withdrawal or desire to be left alone – at times as a necessity toward tension relief
  • Irrationality
  • Emotional transition toward elation or overactivity
  • Triggering events affect mood for varying time frames often above typical response
  • Feeling of contamination or mental contamination due to real or perceived factors
  • Tension
  • Unrealistic sense of ability often leading toward risk, exhaustion or other potential harm factors
  • Avoidance, even when there appears to be no apparent reason
  • Complete Psychosis
  • Rumination or Intrusive thoughts that impact in various ways
  • Inability to absorb, tolerate, or adapt to reprimand, critique, or contrary conditions

Emotional Needs Articles

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