Friday, March 29, 2013

Self Care Tips

Here's another handout I found on Pinterest, that includes self care tips from the American Red Cross- Important for both RT professionals and our patients!!

21 Self Care Tips

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tic Tac Toe Frisbee

Here is an idea I found from Pinterest that looked like it would be lots of fun!  It is similar to the Tic Tac Toe Basketball game posted a while back.

Pinned Image
Get a large shower curtain, sheet, etc. and draw or tape a tic tac toe grid on it.  Set out several Frisbees. The players try to throw the Frisbee so that it lands on one of the squares.  The first player to get 3 in a row wins!!

To process, talk about how difficult this activity was.  What made it so challenging?  How did each player overcome these challenges?  Talk about how sometimes things don't go as planned, and how we can react to these situations. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Floating on a Cloud

This is another relaxation exercise I utilize in some of my groups.  You can find the script here.  It describes the experience of floating on a cloud and relaxing your body, calming your breathing, and controlling your thoughts.  Pair it with some peaceful, relaxing music and it makes for a really productive and meaningful group.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bop It!

At my facility, we have what's called "Activity Night" with our adolescent unit each evening.  This is a chance for more of a recreation participation experience.  One of my go-to activities for this group is Bop It!  The kids really enjoy it and it usually provides just enough challenge to keep them interested without overwhelming and completely frustrating them.

This is also a great game for a stress management group!  You can process how they handled the stress and then apply it to current stresses in their lives.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Glad Game

Here is an activity taken from this website.  It is based on a game Pollyanna plays called "The Glad Game."  The purpose is to help increase positive thinking habits.

One person identifies a negative event, such as losing a job, and says "I've just lost my job and am trying not to panic."  Other players try to get the first player to think positively, by coming up with as many positive things about the event as possible.  For example, "I lost my job but now I get to eat lunch with my family every day" or "I lost my job but now I don't have to get up at 4:30am every morning!"

Continue until you have no more ideas and then move onto another negative situation.

Talk about how finding the positive things can help us cope with negative events in life.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Depression Trees

This is an activity created by one of my coworkers, Adrianna Markley, CTRS.  It's an awesome intervention!!
Sorry about the poor quality of this picture -
I took it quickly at work one day!

Have the patients draw a "depression tree."

The base of the tree is to represent them and their personality.  Write character traits on the tree trunk.
  *If they saw a weak base, they could make the tree thin or broken looking
  *If they felt they had a strong base, the tree could be wide and healthy
  *If they felt complicated, the base could be twisted or have multiple trunks

The leaves of the tree are to be references to their depression and things they feel when they are depressed (i.e. isolates, stays in bed, insomnia, no appetite, etc.)

Lead a discussion on how depression, like tree leaves, go away at different times but can come back.  How do we continue to cope with it?

Have patients write their coping skills around the tree, both things they have done in the past and new ideas they want to try.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life Map (Self Discovery)

Here's one more idea from Nicole Bernard, CTRS, from the URTA Conference.

Program Goal: Clients will look to the past, present and future to discover themselves

Equipment/ Preparation: Art supplies

Space requirement : Class room

Group Size: Any

Activity Description
Introduction: The North Star
• Read the book The North Star by Peter H Reynolds

Activity: Life Map
• Clients will create a life map of where you have been in life and where you are going.
• This map will include a legend where different landmarks represent different metaphors. Examples:
-Bridges are places in your life where you recovered from a traumatic event.
-Forks in the road for decisions
-Mountains, obstacles
-Caves and haunted forests
-Completely blackened out areas

-Create a compass rose for your map. What do North, East, South, and West represent to you? Which direction is the compass rose guiding you?

Fact Finding
• What are some objects in you map?
Feeling questions
• What emotions did creating this map cause? What did you do to deal with those emotions?
Transference/synthesis questions
• Where are you going? What is your dream? What do you want to accomplish in your life?

Thanks again Nicole!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Positivity Egg Activity

Here's another activity from Nicole Bernard, CTRS, that was presented at the 2013 URTA Conference.

Program Goal: Clients will identify different skills they use to create a positive life style

Space requirement:
Class room or outside (it is less messy outside)

Purchase raw eggs and salt

-Do you think that you can balance a raw egg?
-What will it take to balance a raw egg?

Activity Description:
Egg Balancing Game
-An individual has to balance the wider part of a raw egg on a flat, somewhat textured tabletop.
-Hard-boiled eggs won't work, since they tend to wobble and fall over because of the weight of the cooked yolk at the bottom.
-If players are unable to stand the egg upright, all is not lost. Sprinkle a small mound of salt on the table and balance the egg in it.
-Having the person resort to using salt illustrates that many things are possible but may require some outside-the-box thinking to achieve.

Fact Finding:
• Were you able to balance the egg? How long did it take?
• What did it take to balance the egg?
• Did you believe you could balance the egg?

Feeling Questions:
• Were any of you frustrated?
• What were some of your thoughts while doing the activity?
• Have you ever believed you could accomplish something? What was it and were you able to
accomplish it?

Transference/synthesis questions
• Are your thoughts positive or negative? How do those thoughts affect your actions?
• What can you do to have a more positive outlook on life?

Adapted from

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wireless Communication

This was an activity I learned at the URTA conference a few weeks ago, in a class taught by Nicole Bernard, CTRS at McKay D Hospital.  As part of the class, we actually played the game ourselves--it was a blast!!

Program Goal: Teach effective communication skills to improve verbal communication

Equipment: rope, a box of items, blind fold

Space requirement: gym

Group Size: any

Program description: Clients will learn three ways to communicate through an activity. They will learn how to non verbally communicate, verbally communicate, and listen to others throughout the activity.

Preparation: Put a rope in the center of the gym and place items in a box

-What ways do we communicate?
-How does that affect a relationship?

Start this activity by placing a rope on the ground.

Ask the group to select a listener.

Bring that person forward 20 feet and blindfold him. He is not allowed to speak for the remainder of the game, and he cannot move unless directed to do so.

Ask the group to select a communicator. Bring that person forward 10 feet and turn her so she faces the group, which should be standing on the starting line. The communicator may not turn around to look at the listener. She is the only person in the group allowed to speak.

Give the group a set of instructions involving the use of props. For example: "Direct the listener to put the scarf on his head, the glove on his hand and take off his shoe." The group must communicate these instructions to the communicator without speaking, so the communicator can tell the blindfolded listener what to do.

-Fact Finding question:
-What types of communication did you use throughout the activity?
-Did anyone find it challenging to communicate during the activity?
-Analysis and feeling questions
-What were some of the challenges you faced while communicating non-verbally, while communicating verbally, and while receiving direction?
-What was some example of what you saw in others that showed they
communicated effectively?
-Transference questions
-Do you remember sharing information or giving help to someone in everyday life and not receiving anything in return? What was the situation? How did you feel about the situation?
-Do you remember a situation where you have given help to others? How was it received?

Thanks again for letting me post this activity!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

12 Gifts of Birth

Jill Sederberg introduced this book to our facility and we use it all the time!  It's a fantastic book!

The book lists 12 unique gifts that each person is born with.  After reading the book, we have a variety of activities we do.  This might include identifying our own unique gifts, talking about developing talents, etc.

It's a simple book, but has a powerful message and our patients seem to really respond to it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Roll of the Dice

This activity is very similar to the Luck of the Draw activity posted a while back.  Instead of using a deck of cards, this one uses dice.  You could also make a big dice out of a Styrofoam cube to make it more fun!

It is great for a getting to know you activity.  On their turn, each player rolls the dice.  Based on what is rolled the player has to share the following information:

2:  Pass!
3:  Tell us about one goal you have for your future.
4:  Try to make your tongue touch your nose.
5:  What animal best describes you and why?
6:  Share a favorite memory with the group.
7:  Name three things you are grateful for.
8:  Describe your worst nightmare.
9:  Pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.
10:  Describe yourself using 5 positive adjectives
11:  What is your favorite candy bar?
12:  Give the person on each side of you a compliment.

If doubles are rolled, the player has to name everyone in the room.

Afterwards talk about social skills and the importance of good relationships.  Ask if anyone learned anything new about another group member, and how that will affect group dynamics in the future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two Handed Pool

This idea was submitted by Laura Keren, CTRS/LRT, who came up with the activity while she was the manager of the game room on her school's campus.  They were running a team building event for some sororities and needed to come up with some ideas.  This activity has also worked well in her in-patient adult psych facility to work on team building and social skills.

Pool table, balls, sticks

Number of People:
2 or 4 or 6

People get in teams of two.  When it is each team's turn, each person of the team must have one hand on the pool stick.  The rules of pool are still the same as usual, but the twist is having two different people holding onto one stick.  This requires socialization and working together to achieve a common goal (i.e. hitting their assigned balls).

Another twist:
Adding a blindfold for one person and having the other person give verbal directions.

Consider the following questions:
-How did you succeed in this activity?
-Why was communication important?  In what ways did you communicate well?  What kind of communication needed improvement?
-Did someone take the leadership role? How did they become the leader?

Thanks again Laura!  This sounds like such a fun idea!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Got an Idea??

Don't forget to send your activity ideas to and I'll get them posted on the blog!  What's worked for your facility?  What new ideas are you planning?  I'd love to hear from you!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stress Relief Activities

Yes, Friday's handout will be a little early this week... But I found this on Pinterest and loved it because of how it incorporates all of the senses.

Reduce Stress with your Senses
This is a great resource for discussing coping skills.  Share it with the group and see what other ideas the patients can come up with.  It might be fun to divide into five groups and have a competition to see which sense has the most ideas associated with it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Q Tip Paintings Part 2: Templates

This is a follow up post to the Q Tip Painting activity posted a while back.  While on Pinterest the other day, I saw these cool templates that are designed specifically designed for Q-Tip paintings.

distal point control- qtip paint!
The original templates are posted here.  I thought this would be very helpful for lower functioning groups, or groups who were a little more resistant to the art groups because they believe they aren't "creative" enough.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Helium Stick

This is an activity I learned from one of my intern supervisors, Jill Comarell.  I've done it several times since then and it's always gone over well!


Light weight pole around 10 feet long (or a hula hoops works really well too!)

Purpose:  To demonstrate the importance of focusing on a common goal when working on a group project and to teach about the importance of communication and teamwork.

Discuss with patients the importance of teamwork.  Explain that when trying to complete a task as a group everyone must work together.

Divide the group into two teams, each facing each other.  The teams should stand shoulder to shoulder.  Everyone should bend their elbows to a 90 degree angle.  Their index fingers should point out.

Place the "helium stick" on top of the fingers, so that it rests on everyone's collective fingers.  Nobody is allowed to touch the stick with any finger besides their index fingers.

Tell the group their objective is to lower the stick to the ground without anyone's fingers letting go of the stick.  If anyone's fingers is caught not touching the stick, the group will have to start over!

The stick will always go up!!  The secret is that the collective upwards pressure tends to be greater than the weight of the stick.  Often the more the group tries, the more it floats.

Discuss the activity with the group.  Consider the following questions:
-What was the initial reaction of the group?
-How well did the group cope with this challenge?
-What skills does it take to be successful in this challenge?
-How well did the group work together?
-How well did the group communicate?
-What creative solutions were proposed and how were they received and/or implemented?
-What would an outsider have observed the strengths and weaknesses of the group to be?
-What role did each person play in the group?
-What did each group member learn about him/herself as an individual?

I like to use a hula hoop when I do this at my facility.  I also talk about codependency and relationships when we process.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Halloween Jeopardy

This is a Jeopardy game I made for Halloween.  I realize that Halloween is still months away, but things always get crazy around that time of year, so I figured we'd just get this posted early.  Watch for more Jeopardy games soon!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Coloring with Emotions

This is a great art therapy activity!


Discuss with patients how emotions relate to color.  Consider the following chart.
Next, have patients fill out the following emotion grid. Instruct patients to choose one color to represent each emotion and color in the square. After all the squares are complete, discuss the choices as a group. What color did each patient choose? Why? What emotions did the patients choose similar colors for?  Etc.

Feel free to add/change emotions as needed

Then give each patient a blank piece of paper. Have the patients identify some of the emotions they are currently feeling. Using the colors they chose to represent those particular emotions, have the patients create a new drawing. Explain that they can express their emotions by the colors they choose. They do not have to draw objects in the typical colors, although they can. For example the sun could be yellow for you or black for hatred. Afterwards process the pictures with the patients and talk about how color can be helpful in expressing emotions.

*Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures...hopefully you get the idea!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cognitive Distortions

I've been looking at various ways to incorporate the idea of teaching cognitive distortions in my RT groups.  I found this simple handout that describes some of the most common cognitive distortions in an easy to understand way and thought I'd share it.  Hope you enjoy!!

Pocket Diary Card
Anyone else have a creative way to present these in a group activity??