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Partnerships Lead To Board Game Therapy Research Study

RPG (Restaurant, Pub and Games), a downtown Lawrence business, and the University of Kansas have partnered on a research study during the past year involving board game therapy and Bert Nash Center clients.

Restaurant, Pub, and Games (RPG), a downtown Lawrence business
Restaurant, Pub, and Games (RPG), a downtown Lawrence business

“I’m very pleased with the study, and our partnership with Bert Nash,” said Nate Morsches, co-founder of RPG. “I think the way Bert Nash, KU, and RPG are working together on this project demonstrates how a community can come together and build something important and impactful, even ranging between various sectors — private, social services, and education and research.”


Morsches said the idea for the study was inspired by a story he heard at a Bert Nash Center fundraising breakfast.


“Patrick Schmitz (Bert Nash Center CEO) shared a story about how a nonverbal client became verbal through the therapy sessions held at RPG for board game therapy,” Morsches said. “This story moved me and made me want to establish this anecdote as a provable scientific fact, which would lend credibility both to Bert Nash’s board game therapy as well as RPG’s general contribution to the community.”


Morsches mentioned his idea to a friend, Dr. Alexander Williams, Program Director of Psychology, Director of the Psychological Clinic, and licensed clinical psychologist at the Edwards Campus of the University of Kansas. His friend brought in Dr. Westley Youngren, a postdoctoral psychologist at VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System, who earned his PhD at KU, to help with the research. Together, they suggested the structure of the study that has been used with Bert Nash Center clients at RPG. They hope to have the study published.

The average age of the participants was 45. The youngest was 25; the oldest was 63. Sixty percent were female, 40 percent male. Eighty percent were white, 20 percent were Native American. One hundred percent reported attending for socialization, 60 percent for depression, and 20 percent for anxiety. One hundred percent of the participants reported the sessions were therapeutic and helpful.


When asked about the board game therapy group, participants responded enthusiastically.


“It was fun,” one participant said.


“It was something we looked forward to,” another participant said.


The group met from 4-5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at RPG. They played a variety of board games, including Yahtzee, Sorry, Uno, Life, Monopoly, and others. There was no charge for group participants to play.

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