Group therapy activities exist across a huge range of life experiences, community needs, and group dynamics. In the early stages of any group therapy effort, it is important that group members feel comfortable and safe with one another. The more trust a client has in the group environment, the more likely they are to participate throughout the entire experience.
A great place for therapists to start is with ice-breaker activities. These activities and exercises are meant to build a bond and connection between group members so that they are familiar with one another and trust each other enough to progress forward as a whole.
An important consideration is the age group that a therapist is working with. Adults, teens, and children all interact in different ways and group therapy activities should reflect that. Below, therapists can find a breakdown of group therapy activities for all age groups.
Fun Group Therapy Activities for Adults:
1) Two Truths and a Lie
Two truths and a lie is one of the more common group therapy activities for adults. This is a great opportunity to learn new information about each group member and give them information that helps them remember one another. Therapists should instruct each group member to think of two facts about themselves as well as concoct one lie to throw in the mix. Group members should try their best to guess which piece of information is the lie!
2) Desert Island
Another common group therapy activity for adults includes “desert island.” This exercise is meant to be lighthearted and reflective of each group member’s passions and interests. Therapists should ask each client to come up with 3-5 things they could not survive without should they end up stranded on a desert island. To guarantee that no one tries to use practical items (water, food, fire, etc), therapists should tell their clients that everything they need to live is already on the island. This will prompt each group member to think a little more outside of the box for things that reflect who they are and what is important to them.
Fun Group Activities for Teens:
1) Find Someone Who
This icebreaker activity is used all of the time by group therapists, educators, and others who are trying to build community among a group of teenagers. Therapists should start by creating a bingo sheet or list of different experiences and interests. For example, a sheet might include phrases like “find someone who has traveled to Europe” or “find someone who has their driver’s license.” Each sheet should contain roughly 10-20 “find someone who” prompts. Once one is handed out to each group member, the therapist should set a timer for each person to find another in the group who has, in fact, traveled to Europe or a teen that has their driver’s license. This helps each group member learn more about the others while helping them remember their names.
2) Story Cubes
Story cubes is a game that therapists can purchase or make that helps the group explore their imagination and loosen up around one another. Each dice has a different image or prompt on it. The therapists should start by creating a single line to a story. For example, the therapist might say “There once was a boy named Sean.” The first group member would then roll the dice and make a story based on whatever the images prompted them to create. For example, if the die had a picture of a tree on it, the next person might say “sean really loved to go camping in the woods.” This exercise is great for engaging young, creative minds.
Fun Group Activities for Students and Children:
1) Me Too Web
This is a great group therapy activity for children who are eager to learn more about one another and share about themselves. Therapists should start with a ball of yarn and state a simple fact about themselves like “my favorite color is blue.” A child who also has the favorite color would say “me too!” The therapist would then toss the ball of yarn to that child while holding on to the end of the string. The child who caught the yarn would repeat the steps by stating a fact about themselves.
2) Worries in a Hat
Sometimes young children can have a difficult time expressing their emotions or putting words to them. Even at an age where they might not understand their feelings, children can still feel isolated and alone. Worries in a hat is a group therapy activity that helps children identify their feelings and learn that they are not alone in them. Each kid should write down one thing they are worried about regarding their shared life experience (or what brought them to group therapy). The therapist can then read each worry out loud to the group, keeping each group member anonymous. What usually ends up happening is that one child’s fear is not theirs alone. Many of them learn that other group members feel the same way they do which can help them feel more connected.
Group therapy activities will vary between every age group but are always a great way to break the ice, build trust, and help each group member become familiar with the others.
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