11 Effective Group Therapy Activities for Teens | Carepatron

By Ashleigh Knowles on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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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 of 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 psychotherapy.

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, a group session 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 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 therapy in a group setting 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 counseling Group Therapy Activities

Let's dive right into the thick of it! Try one of these activities in your next group therapy session:

People search

"People Search" is one of the most exciting group counseling activities for adults. There are two variants of this game.

In the first variant, each participant receives a list of traits. Then, they go around and talk to other group members, and list down each member who fits each trait until they fill up the list. Whoever gets to fill up the list first wins.

In the second variant, group members write a list of traits without their name, and the facilitator will take and distribute these lists to other participants. Then group members guess and search for the person who fits all those characteristics. Whoever matches each list to the appropriate person first wins.

If you include traits beyond physical characteristics, you can encourage deeper conversations and connections among participants.

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.

This activity not only boosts individual self-esteem but also strengthens group cohesion and mutual support, as members take turns affirming each other's strengths and positive qualities.

Human knot

Human Knot is one of the most exciting activities for group counseling. This activity enhances problem-solving skills, encourages physical coordination, and fosters a sense of accomplishment and unity as the group navigates the challenge together.

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

  1. Have all participants stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.
  2. Ask everyone to reach out their right hand and grab the hand of someone across the circle from them. It's important that they don't grab the hand of the person directly next to them.
  3. Next, have everyone reach out their left hand and grab a different person's hand across the circle, again ensuring it's not the hand of someone directly next to them.
  4. The group will now find themselves in a "human knot." The objective is for the group to untangle themselves without releasing their hands. They can step over or under arms, turn around, or make other moves as needed to untangle the knot.
  5. The activity is complete when the group has successfully untangled themselves and formed a circle again, or if it becomes clear that the knot cannot be untangled.

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 more personally.

Fear in a hat

“Fear 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.

To play, 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 similar traits or qualities. The similarities can range from the most trivial to significant things.

This activity highlights the similarities among group members, promoting empathy and understanding, and reinforcing the idea that everyone has more in common than they might initially think.

The self-compassion pause

Compassion is not just something we give to others, but to ourselves, too. This game is one of many motivational group therapy activities you can try out, and it focuses on being compassionate to themselves and should be included in your CBT group therapy activities.

Here's how it works. There should be a big piece of paper for the whole group, 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 the 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 group 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 statements about specific situations. These situations can be hypothetical or not. The participants will have to stand up if they agree or can relate to the statements, but must stay seated if they don't. This game can be adapted by allowing participants to take turns as the statement-giver, adding variety and encouraging active participation from all members.

This is an enjoyable game that requires members to be quick-witted. It's a quick and engaging way to explore group dynamics, understand diverse perspectives, and foster a sense of inclusivity.

Feelings 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 or group leader will state a certain feeling. For example, the emotion stated could be "disappointed." Then each group member will have to walk as if they're disappointed. The facilitator can state the feeling, or the members can take turns stating what emotion the other group members will demonstrate.

This activity explores different emotions and analyzes how our bodies react. It helps individuals become more attuned to their own emotions and physical responses as well as other people's. As such, it promotes emotional literacy and fosters empathy as members observe and understand how their peers express similar feelings.

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 must look at the question under their left thumb. They must answer that question with full honesty.

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 sessions, and these therapy activities for adults will help them feel at ease. Making the atmosphere light and enjoyable will increase their chances of achieving therapeutic goals—which is the most important part of mental health group therapy.

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

Need some support in running your healthcare business? Check out Carepatron—the all-in-one practice management software solution!

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