Tag Archives: Therapy Activities

Life with the Wright Family

This is a great activity for working on active listening skills with teenagers. It was originally found on the CDC’s website.

Materials:

  • The Wright Family Story found here.
  • One playing card, paper clip, pen, or other small item for each person in the group.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Have the entire group stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.
  2. Give each person in the circle the small item that can easily be passed from hand to hand.
  3. Explain you will read them a story. Every time they hear any word that sounds like right, they are to pass their object to the person on their right. And, every time they hear the word left, they are to pass the object to the person on their left.
  4. Start reading the story slowly to give clients a chance to follow what you want them to do. After a few passes of the objects, stop and check in with the clients. Make sure they all have an item in their hands as it is normal for some clients to have several items and others to have none.
  5. Redistribute the items as needed and continue with the story. Speed up your reading a little as you go. Pay attention to how the clients are doing. Stop, check in, and redistribute items as needed throughout the rest of the story.
  6. After the story is done, collect the items and process the experience with the clients. Follow up questions can include:
    1. What does this activity tell us about communication?
    2. What does this activity tell us about teamwork?
    3. What does this activity tell us about listening skills in particular?
    4. What was your experience participating in this activity?
    5. How much of the story can you remember?

Islands of Personality Activity

Purpose:

To explore how the ways in which we define ourselves influence our choices and behaviors.

Materials:

The Disney film Inside Out (or follow the link below for a clip of the relevant segment of the movie), large sheets of blank paper, markers, paints, pencils, and other art supplies

Directions:

  1. Watch the movie Inside Out, directing clients to pay attention to Riley’s Islands of Personality. If you don’t have access to the full movie, follow this link for a clip of the relevant segment of the movie. I recommend watching the whole movie as there are many great treatment tie-ins throughout the movie.
  2. After the movie is over, hand out the large sheets of paper and art supplies.
  3. Instruct clients to illustrate their own islands of personality. Remind clients that the drawings must stay appropriate. If clients so choose to include substance use and/or mental health issues in their drawings, ask them to consider how they should include it as these are not part of our core personalities.
  4. After everyone is done, discuss the drawings. Discussion questions could include the following:
    1. Why did you choose the things you did for your islands?
    1. How has substance use affected your islands?
    1. What did you learn about the islands of personality from the movie?
    1. What would you want to change about your islands of personality?
    1. What would you hope never changes about your islands of personality?

What’s Most Important

Purpose: To become aware of values and priorities.

Materials: One copy for each participant of the handout, “What’s Most Important” handout; scissors; tape or glue; one piece of blank paper for each participant; one business envelope for each participant; whiteboard and markers or chalkboard and chalk

Time: 40-50 minutes

Planning Notes:

  • Read the handout and add values statements of your own, if you wish, before duplicating the handout.
  • Cut the individual handouts into strips. Place each set of strips in an envelope, creating a packet for each participant.
  • Create a poster of prioritized values for Step 3, one for each value statement. The priorities should read from MOST IMPORTANT to SECOND MOST IMPORTANT and so on, down to LEAST IMPORTANT.

Procedure:

  1. Review the concept of values. Talk about choosing from a series of coins/bills and how the largest value is the one we pick first and so on.
  2. Explain that for, this activity, the participants will choose among several intangible items, rating which they value most, second most, all the way to which they value least.
  3. Go over instructions for the activity
    1. I will give each of you an envelope containing 20 strips of paper. Each strip has the name of something intangible written on it. Arrange these strips so that what is of most value to you is on top and what is of least value is on the bottom. (Display the illustration you have drawn.)
    1. Move the strips around until the ranking matches how you really value them. Then tape or glue your strips in the correct order to the piece of blank paper I will also give you.
    1. This may be somewhat frustrating because you can have only one top priority. Sometimes, we have conflicting priorities. You must just do the best you can.
  4. Distribute one envelope and one piece of blank paper to each participant. Ask participants to begin. Circulate, offering help if anyone who is having trouble understanding what it is you asked. Caution the adolescents to work slowly and think carefully about each item.
  5. When all or most of the participants are finished, call time. Conclude the activity using the discussion points below.

Discussion Points:

  1. What were your top three or four values?
  2. Was it easier to choose the things you value the most or the least? Why?
  3. Were there items on the list that that you had never really thought about before? Which ones?
  4. Were you surprised by your completed list of values? Why or why not?
  5. How do you think your ranking of values would compare to your parents’ ranking?
  6. How might you stand up for your top three values?

Recovery Dice Group Activity

Goals: 

  • Teach the participants the importance of Coping Skills and Sober Resources, by utilizing their creativity.   
  • Assist participants in identifying various coping skills and community resources they have available to them to assist them in improving their relapse prevention skills and knowledge.  
  • Encourage creativity in this hands on recovery activity.  

Materials:  

  • 12 Sided Dice Template (2 for each client) linked below
  • Scissors 
  • Markers/Writing Utensils
  • Clear Tape 

Introduction: Start at discussion with participants regarding what they should do when experiencing cravings or triggers.  Encourage them to brainstorm various options including different coping skills and community resources.  Assist and provide additional examples if needed. 

Procedure:

Explain to participants that they will be creating their own Recovery Dice.  The idea for the dice is to have as a resource when struggling with finding the right coping skill or resource to use in a particular situation.  They will each create one Coping Skill Dice, and one Resource Dice. They may not repeat any resources or coping skills on their recovery dice.   

Discussion: 

  • Have participants share their finished projects, explaining which coping skills and resources they put on their Recovery Dice.  
  • Have the participants come up with various situations or triggers in which a coping skill or resource would be necessary.   
  • Each individual will take turns using their recovery dice for the scenarios discussed as a group.  
  • Closing: Discuss/reiterate the importance of effective coping skills and knowledge of community resources in and effective relapse prevention plan.  Assist clients in identifying additional resources they may not have come up with on their own.  

A Centering Exercise

Often clients come into sessions agitated and unable to focus. Sometimes it’s walking into a group setting that can trigger this. Centering exercises are designed to calm the mind of racing thoughts and relax the body. While there are many options out there, here’s an easy one to try.

Have the clients sit comfortably in a chair, with their feet on the floor. Instruct them to close their eyes and breathe slowly in through the nose, hold the breath for a moment, then breathe out through the mouth until their lungs are empty. Ask them to notice any thoughts that come into their mind. Remind them, all they need to do is acknowledge and then let go of the thoughts that come to mind. Have them continue breathing in the same pattern for several minutes, just observing the thoughts coming and going. Then, when they are ready, have the clients open their eyes. Ask the clients if anyone wants to volunteer their observations on the thoughts they noticed, but don’t require it of clients when completing a centering exercise. Allow time to discuss any thoughts or observations should clients choose to do so.

And there you have it. A quick and easy centering exercise. Remember the main goal of this exercise–peace and calm. Dealing with those thoughts and feelings are for another time.