Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Progressive Group Drawing

Submitted by Mallory Diepen, CTRS, Adventist Glen Oaks Hospital, Behavioral Health Department

Materials Needed: Paper, art supplies (markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.)

Group size: 4-12

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Instructions: Give each participant a blank sheet of paper and pass out art supplies. Have everyone take turns being the “leader”, giving a directive to the rest of the group. The directive will be to draw one picture on their sheet of paper. For example, the first participant might say “draw a house” and everyone, including the leader, will draw a house. The next person might add to that “draw a purple tree next to the house.” The directive can be as simple or detailed as the leader wants (with consideration to the ability level of the group). The activity will end when each person has had a chance to be the leader. Have everyone share their picture when complete.

• How did you feel during this activity?
• Did you like being the leader or the one receiving the directive better and why?
• What skills did you need to participate in this activity?
• Discuss how each person gave input to complete the activity
• Talk about how each picture is different and that everyone has their own point of view
• How can it be helpful to be able to view things from multiple angles?

There are several directions you can go with this activity. It can be related to leadership skills and self-esteem, communication and being assertive, creativity and self-expression, following directions and focusing, etc. This activity can be adapted for all populations; however, I have found it to work well with a lower functioning population or those who have difficulty staying focused.

Thanks again Mallory!

Monday, July 6, 2015


Here is an activity submitted by Molly Gilbert, an RT intern at Sycamore Springs in Lafayette, IN.  

Objective/Goals: ­­To improve skills in the areas of stress and frustration management.

Population: ­­higher functioning patients dealing with mental health and substance abuse 

Materials Needed: one plastic cup per patient
This is an activity based on the routine/song “Cups” by Anna Kendrick. 
Begin by discussing how patients currently deal with stress and frustration.  Discuss the difference between positive and negative coping skills and ask each patient to identify a positive way of dealing with stress and frustration.  Ask the patients to keep this in mind as they complete the activity, as it has the potential to increase their stress and frustration. 
Before passing out the cups, explain that the group will be learning a routine with the cups and that their end goal is to be able to do it all together as a group. (For even higher functioning groups, you can identify the goal as being able to do the routine along with the song).    Show them this video as an example ( – Anna Kendrick Cup Song Audition - Pitch Perfect).
Teach patients the cup routine step by step:
·         Clap, clap
·         3 hits on table (right, left, right)
·         Clap
·         With right hand, lift cup and set back down
·         Clap
·         Grab cup with upside-down right hand
·         Opening of cup to palm of left hand
·         With right hand, tap bottom of cup on table
·         Place cup, up-right, in left hand
·         Right hand on table
·         Place cup upside-down on table to the right of your right hand
Once the group has the concept, practice the entire routine continuously.  Slowly increase the speed as patients become more confident.  As patients improve, add the challenge of passing the cup to the right at the end of each set.  When done correctly, the cups are passed around the circle.  For higher functioning groups, play the song and have them try to do the routine along with the music.  
Review the positive coping skills patients identified at the start and discuss any that were used during the activity.  If negative coping skills were used, discuss why those were negative and brainstorm more positive coping skills.  End with a discussion on how it feels to be stressed/frustrated by something, but to keep working on it and then accomplish it. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Choices in a Jar

As a school psychologist, this quickly became a favorite intervention. It didn't take me long to realize that these cards could be adapted and used for just about any grade level!
Image result for choices in a jar
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Choices in a Jar, available on Amazon, is a set of cards. Each card has the question "Would you rather _______ or _______?"
-Would you rather not eat for two days or not sleep for two days?
-Would you rather have no long term memory or no short term memory?
-Would you rather live in a house with no walls or a house with no ceiling?

Sometimes I used this as a getting to know you activity when I had a new student in my group. Other times it was a good conversation starter when the kids weren't talking much. I also used it to talk about choices and consequences, and we would discuss what the consequences of each option would be.

How would you use this in your work?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fourth of July Idea Round-Up!

Can you believe it's already JULY?!?! Where is the summer going? Today, rather than post a new activity, I thought I'd highlight some of our favorite Fourth of July activities from past years! Be sure to check them out and comment with your favorites as well!

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I remember a few years ago working on a particular holiday and the patients seemed to be frustrated and disappointed that they couldn't be home with their families and friends celebrating. I've discovered that one of the best ways to deal with these types of situations was to get my patients focused on something else, someone else. We've made lots of different kinds of cards, but these Military Postcards would be perfect for this holiday weekend! There are several different places you could send them once they are complete, check with your local community resources for places in your area!

One of my absolute favorite activities for any holiday is Jeopardy! My patients also love that Jeopardy usually involves candy as a prize. ;) So, here's a link to our Fourth of July Jeopardy game. This usually works with any age group, but may be better for higher functioning individuals. The questions can also be adapted based on the particular population you are working with.

If you're in the mood for an art therapy project, be sure to check out our Toothpick Fireworks activity! This is a relatively easy activity that can be done with just about any population. I'm even thinking of doing this art activity with my cute niece and nephews this weekend! You can stick to the red, white, and blue colors or make the fireworks colorful.

Finally, if you wanna just have a party, there's always Fourth of July Minute to Win It games! The post features games such as What a Racket, Wet Balloon, and Wrap Them Up! Alternatively, you could present patients with a few supplies and have them create their own games for the rest of the group to play.

What are some of YOUR favorite Fourth of July Activities? Be sure to share below!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Water in the Face

This is always a fun game for those hot summer days when the patients (and us!) want to be outside and not stuck inside all day. This idea was found in the book Team Building Activities for Every Group by Alana Jones (available on Amazon). It's perfect for hot summer days when you're looking for a way to stay cool but don't want to get too wet. ;)

Water in the Face!

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Practice social and communication skills in a fun, interactive game

Group Size:
8 or more

Paper cup
Jug of water (or some other water source)

Gather the group in a circle, either sitting or standing.  One person stands in the middle holding the paper cup of water. (You can decide how full to fill it!) The person in the middle chooses a category (i.e., type of car, color, kind of cereal, ice cream flavor, candy, etc.) and tells the rest of the group the category.

The person in the middle secretly selects an item in the particularly category chosen! If you're worried about the person changing his mind, s/he may whisper his selected item to the facilator. Once the item is selected, the game can begin!

One at a time, each person in the circle guesses what the person in the middle is thinking of. Each person can only guess one item per turn, and cannot repeat what has already been said. As soon as one player correctly guesses what the individual in the middle was thinking of, that person gets the water splashed in his face! The correct guesser also becomes the next person in the middle of the circle.

There are numerous ways to process this activity. You could talk about the importance of clear communication. You could discuss the necessity of social skills. Or you could have participants think about what it was like to have water thrown in their face and how we react to different things that happen in our life. Be creative! Use what happens during the group to lead where the processing goes, as that will help you best meet the needs of your clients.

Adaptations: I have also seen this done with the lid of a water bottle instead of a paper cup. This made it a little more "inside friendly" for patients that were not able to go outside for group.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pinterest Link Up Party!!

Image result for Pinterest
One of my favorite resources for fun ideas is Pinterest!!

I'm sure we all have our favorite boards of activity ideas, whether it's for rec therapy, teaching, entertaining the kids, or behavioral management tips. This week, I want to hear from ALL of YOU! Comment below with a link to your favorite pinterest board so we can all be inspired by one another! Or, post one idea you found on pinterest that has been successful for you! :)

I can't wait to see your comments!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mandala Coloring Therapy

From Donica

Mandala Coloring Therapy

Size: Any size, any age

Equipment: Printer or digital graphics program like Paint Shop. For printed copy you'll want coloring gear like felt markers, watercolor paints, pencil crayons, glue and sparkles etc. Good posture is highly recommended while coloring; find a coloring location/posture that supports this.

Objective: Many people find meditation incredibly hard to get into, even though the benefits are well documented. With Coloring Therapy, a state of meditative awareness is easily attained, because the focus needed to gain observation of our inner dialogue occurs in the coloring.

SUMMER TIP FOR PARENTS: Going on a roadtip this summer? Looking for something to entertain the kids on those summer days when it's too hot to send them outside? Download some of these coloring pages and have a contest of who can color them the most elaborate. Or color it with only three colors. The possibilities are endless!

P.S. Post some finished Mandalas in the comments so we can enjoy your artwork!! :)