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A (mostly) monthly newsletter about digital playgrounds.
Chapter 1. Welcome to The Continent (Rachel Kowert)
Chapter 2. Embodying Geralt Through Vocal Performance (Doug Cockle)
Chapter 3. The Outsider Within: Geralt of Rivia Through Monster Theory (Seth Pierce)
Chapter 4. Ethics and the Witcher Code (Christopher Leech)
Chapter 5. Monsters of Men: Geralt and Non-Toxic Masculinity (Rachel Kowert & Kelli Dunlap)
Chapter 6. Bardic Inspiration: Jaskier’s Music Through the Lens of Therapeutic Song Analysis (Iliana Fernandez)
Chapter 7. What is Love? Triss, Don’t Hurt Me (Celeste Sangiorgio)
Chapter 8. Psychology of Attachment: Yennefer of Vengerberg (Marie Shanley)
Chapter 9. Resilience and Trauma: Ciri Fiona Riannon (Jared Kilmer & Elizabeth Kilmer)
Chapter 10. Authoritarian Parenting: Tissaia de Vries (Ashley J. Elliot & Sarah A. Hays)
Chapter 11. Vesemir: Examples of Paternalistic Leadership (Hayden Jones)
Chapter 12. Psychology of Monstrosity: Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy (Amelia Herbst)
Doug Cockle (School of the Wolf) is a professional actor and acting teacher/coach who has been working in theatre, film, television, radio, voice overs and corporate video for over 25 years. He is best known for his work as the voice of Geralt of Rivia in the The Witcher video game series for which he has been nominated for numerous awards including the BAFTA Game Awards. He lives in the UK with his wife, two sons and a dog named Digby (who is a very good boy.. and sometimes gets called Roach by accident on purpose).
Kelli Dunlap (School of the Viper) is the Community Director at Take This and, with a decade of community management experience, is responsible for the Streaming Ambassador Program, the Take This Discord, and other community-focused programs. Outside of Take This, Dr. Dunlap is a licensed clinical psychologist and holds a Masters in game design. She serves as an adjunct professor at American University’s Game Center where she teaches courses on the psychological, cultural, and social components of designing games. She is an award-winning game designer and has collaborated on game design projects with organizations including the National Institute of Mental Health, VOX Media, and McGraw Hill. Dr. Dunlap is an internationally recognized researcher and speaker on the intersection of games and mental health.
Ashley Elliott (School of the Wolf) also known affectionately as Dr. Vivid is a native Washingtonian and considers herself to be a positive product of her urban environment. While receiving her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, she started Vivid Innovations Consulting, LLC., which offers mental health consultation, lifestyle consultation, assessment, and seminar/lecture opportunities. Dr. Elliott is passionate about empowering others and working to change lives. Her clinical interests include community mental health, client psychoeducation/health education, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, plant medicine, BIPOC centered issues, LGBTQIA+ centered issues, severe mental illness, mental health and technology, and the integration of non-traditional and artistic expression in therapy. Her podcast, Vividly Speaking with Dr. Vivid discusses mental health and wellness using transparency and pop culture in effort to normalize conversations about mental health.
Sarah Hays (School of the Wolf) is a Doctor of Counseling Psychology and licensed mental health counselor in Washington State. Her passion for serving the gaming community has been clear since before she started working for Take This in 2018 as a clinical contributor, and focusing heavily on her passion of delivering live, educational content like workshops, panels, and co-hosting Take This’ Twitch stream. Never satisfied with limiting herself to serving one part of the gaming community, Dr. Hays is an outpatient therapist for the game-based mental health nonprofit Game to Grow, specializing in working with games industry, ADHD, and LGBTQIA+ populations. She also serves as the Director of Programming for Queer Women of Esports, is an advisor for the Games Hotline, and is one of the editors of the groundbreaking book A Clinician’s Guide to Geek Therapy.
Amelia Herbst (School of the Wolf) is a psychotherapist and the Program Coordinator for the assessment program at Game to Grow She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. Amelia commonly uses video games, ttrpgs, and geek culture in therapy as therapeutic tools and believes that our interests both empower us and allow us to connect with one another. Amelia also speaks on panels at gaming conventions about the psychology of games, building healthy online communities, and the therapeutic benefits of gaming.
Iliana Fernandez (School of the Wolf), MMT, MT-BC is a Puerto Rican board-certified music therapist living in Northern Virginia. She earned her music therapy certification and master’s degree at Shenandoah University. During her time there, she collaborated on a multimedia representation of a research synthesis that was presented at the European Congress of Music Therapy. She has since presented on panels for PAX, Take This, and vgmtogether on her experiences in music therapy, gaming, and bridging them together in her work with children and adolescents in mental health. Iliana can be contacted @SongsHealing on Twitter and at sofhthings on Ko-Fi.
Elizabeth Kilmer (School of the Wolf) is a clinical psychologist who received her doctoral degree from the University of North Texas. She has developed therapeutic groups utilizing table-top role-playing games to promote well-being, personal safety, and interpersonal effectiveness in children and adolescents who experienced trauma, as well as to promote cognitive flexibility, frustration tolerance, and social skills in military veterans in primary care and substance abuse treatment settings. Elizabeth is passionate about the development and research of applied therapeutic gaming for adolescents and adults.
Jared Kilmer (School of the Griffin) leads the counseling clinic at Game to Grow and sees clients in individual and family therapy. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as one of Game to Grow’s therapeutically applied role-playing game (TA-RPG) group facilitators. He has developed groups utilizing TA-RPGs to promote psychological flexibility, resilience, and well-being in military veterans recovering from mental illness, as well as to promote confidence, teamwork, and interpersonal effectiveness in children and adolescents. Jared is passionate about measuring the cognitive and emotional benefits of games and developing effective therapeutically applied gaming interventions among multiple populations.
Hayden Jones (School of the Wolf) has worked extensively in educational roles helping students learn necessary skills to promote self-esteem and positive communication with others. He has worked with all ages in mental health and education settings and believes in fostering healthy communication skills through strength-based approaches, positive communication, and humor. In addition to individual counseling, where Hayden integrates gaming and geek culture into therapeutic practice, he also works with Game to Grow facilitating social flourishing groups that promote growth through tabletop roleplaying games and training for mental health professionals, educators, and community members.
Rachel Kowert (School of the Wolf) is a research psychologist, the Research Director of Take This, and visiting professor at the University of York (UK). She is a world-renowned researcher on the uses and effects of digital games, including their impact on physical, social, and psychological well-being. An award-winning author, she has published a variety of books and scientific articles relating to the psychology of games and, more recently, the relationship between games and mental health specifically. She also serves as the editor of the Routledge Debates in Media Studies series and the upcoming ETC press series Psychology of Pop Culture. Recently, she founded her YouTube channel Psychgeist (www.youtube.com/psychgeist), which serves to bridge the gap between moral panic and scientific knowledge on a variety of psychology and game-related topics. In 2021, Dr. Kowert was chosen as a member of The Game Awards Future Class, representing the best and brightest of the future of video games. Dr. Kowert has been featured in various media outlets, including NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and Wired Magazine. To learn more about Rachel and her work, visit www.rkowert.com.
Christopher Leech (School of the Wolf) is a PhD researcher in Psychology at Edge Hill University. His work examines the intersection of video games and student mental health. This focuses on what factors impact player receptivity to information within video games. This includes game related factors, player factors and external factors. Christopher is also a person with Albinism and visually impaired/legally blind. As a consequence of this, he is very passionate about equality, inclusivity, diversity and accessibility, especially in games. Outside of research, he is a content creator, consultant, and podcast host. He has presented at a number of conventions and conferences including Games For Change, Penny Arcade, The British Psychological Society. Develop: Brighton, and more. His podcast, Psyched to be with you, can be found on YouTube and all podcasting platforms. He is also a proud ambassador for Take This and Safe In Our World two leading mental health charities.
Seth Pierce (School of the Wolf) is an adjunct professor of communication for Kentucky Wesleyan College and adjunct professor of religion for Walla Walla University. He serves as a minister in the Pacific Northwest and hosts the podcast Beast & Bible which explores the intersection of monsters, faith, and popular culture.
Celeste Sangiorgio (School of the Griffin) is an early career psychologist who studies the stability of personal beliefs and skills across relationships and settings, with a focus on how virtual spaces reinforce or diminish beliefs and skills. Her doctoral research focused on assessing effectiveness of digital platforms that target aggressive behaviors. Her present work continues this research by creating and assessing effectiveness of interactive games and simulation tools in virtual spaces embedded in digital treatment platforms (e.g., interactive puzzles and games, gamified coping skills, communication skill rehearsal in hypothetical and personalized vignettes). In addition to her research work, Celeste has over ten years of experience in psychotherapy practice, including crisis work and advocacy (specifically: sexual assault, human trafficking, and intimate partner violence; eating disorders) and various presenting needs across the lifespan (i.e., Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other complex needs). Her current honors and awards include: RIT Outstanding Scholar Award, HRSA Grant Awardee, McGowan Fellow.
Marie Shanley (School of the Wolf) is a public speaker, researcher and consultant on mental health in content creation. She is also a live host and Twitch partner (known as Mxiety) where she uses her personal experience living with depression, anxiety, and ADHD to create a space encouraging self-acceptance and promoting that light to others. Her work has been featured by To Write Love On Her Arms, The Mighty, Take This, Tiny Buddha, and more. Her debut book, a collection of essays entitled “Well That Explains It”, was published in 2019.
Rachel Kowert, Ph.D is a research psychologist, the Research Director of Take This, and visiting professor at the University of York (UK). She is a world-renowned researcher on the uses and effects of digital games, including their impact on physical, social, and psychological well-being. In her current work, she serves as one of the primary investigators on the first grant-funded project from the Department of Homeland Security about games and extremism. She has spoken about her work to thousands of people across the globe, including the United States Congress, United Nations, and Department of Homeland Security. An award-winning author, she has published a variety of books and scientific articles relating to the psychology of games and, more recently, the relationship between games and mental health specifically. She also serves as the editor of the Routledge Debates in Media Studies series and the upcoming ETC press series Psychology of Pop Culture. In 2020, she founded Psychgeist, a multimedia content production studio for video and print content about the science of games and pop culture. In 2021, Dr. Kowert was chosen as a member of The Game Awards Future Class, representing the best and brightest of the future of video games. Dr. Kowert has been featured in various media outlets, including NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, New York Times, and Wired Magazine. To learn more about Rachel and her work, visit www.rkowert.com.