11 Engaging Ideas For Counseling Group Therapy

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew
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Introduction

The word “counseling” might send shivers down other people's spines. They might feel uncomfortable doing it, especially if it’s their first time engaging in counseling group activities.

But the good news is that counseling doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. It can be fun and collaborative for adults joining group therapy! The benefits associated with counseling group therapy are also significant, and individuals can, together with other participants, work toward achieving their desired clinical outcomes.

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Overview on group therapy

Let’s discuss what group therapy is first. So, group therapy is when a group of people, usually adults, gather together to heal and improve their mental health. These people share the same experiences, and they’re supervised by professionals who facilitate group therapy.

Group therapy has many benefits, such as:

  • Improving communication skills
  • Promoting collaboration
  • Helping other people
  • Developing empathy
  • Receiving support from other people

Group therapy is not just limited to sitting down and discussing what they’re going through because there are many group therapy activities for adults. As we mentioned above, group therapy can be fun. And later, you’ll learn about different game ideas for group therapy.

How do professionals create therapy groups?

According to the American Psychological Association, group therapy can consist of five to 15 patients who meet for an hour or two each week.

Healthcare practitioners, usually therapists, facilitate group therapy. Usually, the groups are comprised of people who share the same experience. For example, those with depression and anxiety will be grouped together while those who experience grief and loss will be grouped together.

The groups are often tailored to address a specific problem, such as low-self esteem, social anxiety, and panic disorder. Others will also join therapy for self-care purposes… which is where group activities for self-care can be extremely useful.

To sum it up, the outcome and setup of the group therapy will depend on how the practitioner chooses to proceed since they’re the experts.

Stages in a group therapy process

The purpose of group therapy is for people with shared experiences to support each other together with professionals.

But before reaping the benefits of group counseling activities, it’s important to understand the stages of the group therapy process.

Formation

First, we have formation. This is where the clients can meet and get to know each other. This is a crucial stage to make the counseling group activities smooth sailing from the get-go.

Storming

Next is the storming stage. This is the stage where participants can discuss opinions and potential challenges. Remember, this should be in a safe environment for everyone.

Norming

In the norming stage, participants must set clear responsibilities and facilitate the group. This stage will help participants get to know and understand each other, which is one of the most important tips to make group therapy effective.

Performance

Lastly, performance. It’s time for participants to work together and find solutions to the problems. They need to have fun during the process to enhance their well-being.

Knowing these stages is one of the best tips to run a successful group therapy session. Why? Because they are guaranteed to help you improve facilitation and keep your sessions highly organized.

11 Engaging ideas for counseling group therapy

People Search

People Search is one of the most exciting group counseling activities for adults. In this game, each participant will receive a list of traits. These are the traits and characteristics that describe other participants. 

Then the participants will search for the people who fit those characteristics on the list. Whoever gets to complete items on the list wins.

Affirmations

Participants can play Affirmations in different ways. Essentially, the facilitator or therapist gives the participants a sheet of paper each. They will write down their names, and participants will pass the papers around.

This means each participant will write affirmations for others, and in return, they will get affirmations, too. When the paper is back to its original owners, they can begin discussing the things written on their papers.

Human Knot

Human Knot is one of the most exciting activities for group counseling. Wondering why? The main reason is due to its ability to foster collaboration and problem-solving within the group.

It can be a little bit complicated, but this is how it works:

  • First, everyone in the group will form a circle.
  • Everyone needs to hold the hands of the participants beside them, on both sides.
  • Now, everyone should lift their hands before being tangled with one another.
  • Everyone needs to grab random hands. This needs to be random so that no one can hold the hands of the person next to them this time.
  • Once everyone is tangled, the group must untangle themselves without talking.

The group succeeds when everyone untangles themselves from the knot. 

Two truths and a lie

The game “two truths and a lie” is a fantastic way to get to know one another within the group. This is how it works.

First, the participant will tell three facts about themselves. Two of them are true, and the other one is a lie. Then the other participants should determine which of the facts are accurate, and which one isn’t. 

This game will also help produce useful discussion questions for group therapy as the participants get to know each other on a more personal level.

Fear in a Hat

“Feat in a Hat” is another fun icebreaker. The participants will write their fears on a piece of paper. Once everyone has written their fears anonymously, they will put these papers in a hat.

Then the participants will get a random piece of paper from the hat and describe how they understand the participant’s fear.

This game enables participants to reflect on and empathize with each other’s fears. Given the often similar experiences of clients undergoing group therapy, it is likely that the participants will have a personal understanding of the fears, facilitating a deeper sense of connection between the group members.

Not so different after all

This game could work best for groups that are just getting to know each other, however, any group can play this game to enable a strong bond between participants.

How do you play this? The group will need a few minutes to talk to each other so they can discover things and fun facts about another participant. During this time, they must find traits or qualities similar to one another. 

The similarities can range from the most trivial to significant things.

The self-compassion pause

Compassion is not just something we give to others, but to ourselves, too. This game focuses on being compassionate to themselves and should be included in your CBT group therapy activities.

How it works:

There should be a big piece of paper sectioned into two categories: 

  1. What I say to myself
  2. What I would say to a friend.

Then someone has to share a difficult challenge they faced and write what they were thinking and telling themselves during that situation. Write them under the “What I say to myself” category.

At the same time, the other participants will also share their thoughts and feelings for that member who experienced that difficult situation. They can say something along the lines of, “I think you’re still amazing,” or “It’s going to be okay,” and they will put those under the “What I would say to a friend” category.

The purpose of this activity is to encourage members to improve their positive self-talk and be kinder to themselves, just like how the other members would speak to them during challenging times.

Stand up, sit down activity

This game is pretty simple. The facilitator will ask open-ended questions about specific situations. The participants will have to stand up if they can relate to the statements and sit down if they don’t.

This is an enjoyable game that requires members to be quick-witted. 

Feeling hot potato game

You will need a few squishy balls to make this work. The participants will combine the balls by pressing them together, and then they must form a circle and toss the ball until it breaks. Whoever is holding the balls will talk about a feeling the facilitator or other group members have. 

It’s vital to note that the participants should share comfortably in a non-threatening way, as this discussion can help them process their feelings and thoughts.

Feelings walk

In order to play the “Feelings walk” game, the facilitator will state a certain feeling. For example, the emotion stated could be ‘disappointed’.

Then the participants will have to walk as if they’re disappointed. This is designed to explore different emotions and analyze how our bodies react.

Beach ball activity

Lastly, the beach ball activity. In order to play this game, you need a beach ball and a set of questions to write on the ball. The participants will then toss the ball around, and whoever catches it will have to answer the question under their left thumb from the ball.

So, these are some counseling group activities you can do during therapy!

Conclusion

The participants need to feel safe in the environment during group therapy and these group counseling activities for adults will help them feel at ease. Making the atmosphere light and enjoyable will increase their chances of achieving therapeutic goals.

If you’re looking for more ideas to create a safe, collaborative atmosphere for your group therapy, here are some ideas tailored to the client’s specific needs:

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