Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Group Games

Today's post is passing on an awesome resource that Jennifer Miller, CTRS, BS, BA emailed me about.  She found a website called one day at work while she was looking for some small group adult games.
fun group games
The best thing about the website is how organized it is.  You can find activities based on group size, age, holiday, etc.  Jennifer also mentioned that there are some {FREE!} powerpoint presentations you can use as well!

Thanks again Jennifer for passing along this great resource!  If anyone has tried any of these activities, be sure to comment or send me an email and let us know how it went!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Setting Personal Boundaries

Jill Sederberg introduced the idea of the golf balls/rice example to our facility.  Over the last year we've adapted it to meet the specific needs of our groups.  I love the visual example it creates.


Rice/golf balls
Tupperware container
Boundary worksheet

Ask patients to fit all of the golf balls and the rice in the Tupperware container. Discuss how the golf balls need to go first in order for it all to fit. Explain how this is like using good boundaries in our lives. The golf balls represent the things that are the most important to us in our lives, our core values, our core goals. The rice represents all the little stuff- the phone calls, emails, junk mail, laundry etc. There is no end to this little stuff. The source of the little stuff is endless too- needy coworkers, family, salesman, neighbors, etc. All of this little stuff will fill our lives if we let it. We must have good boundaries so that we are able to get done all the things that are the most important, and then this little stuff will fill in the rest. If we don’t set good boundaries, we won’t have room or time for the really important things in our lives.

Have patients fill out the boundaries worksheet, which was created by Andrea Call, CTRS. Fill out the first four boxes: I am, I am not, I want, I do not want. Discuss these things as a group. Then, have the patients set two boundaries for when they go home- I will and I will not. Have them share these boundaries and what they will do to make sure they are kept.

Talk about how establishing this boundaries will help patients have a healthier life and better relationships.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This is a favorite in the gym for the adolescents at my facility!  It's a simple game, but allows everyone to be involved regardless of basketball skill level.

Have patients line up behind the free throw line.  The first person in line gets the basketball.  Have patients remember the order they are standing in, because this will be the order they shoot in.

The first person (Player A) shoots from the free throw line.  If the shot goes in, the player will need to rebound the ball and touch it to the wall behind the basketball hoop, yelling POISON! as the ball touches the wall.  During this time, all the other players are running away.  When Player A yells poison, everyone else must freeze.  Player A then rolls the ball (think of bowling) and tries to get it to touch someone.  If it hits another player, that person gets a strike.  The next player (Player B) will then shoot from the free throw line and play will continue.

If however, player A misses that first shot, player B has to rebound the ball within 3 bounces.  Player B then shoots the ball from exactly where he rebounded it.  If he makes it, he rebounds, yells poison, and rolls the ball.  If not, player C has 3 bounces to rebound and play continues.

If a player gets 3 strikes (i.e. hit by the ball 3 times), the player is out.  The last player still in wins!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mean Pigs

I got this activity from a URTA Conference.  It was originally created by Bryan Crown, TRS, CTRS and this blog post is simply a copy of the handout we were given.  We did a small demonstration of the activity at the conference and it was a lot of fun!


Space Requirements: Gym

Equipment/Resources needed:
2 Water balloon launchers
10 Balls
Empty boxes (use boxes that can easily be knocked down)
Green plush pigs or green balloons
Small piece of paper for each participant
Pen/pencil for each participant

Group size: 3-12

1. Identify tools or ways participants can overcome issues
2. Identify ways to communicate with support

Preparation: Set up the gym like an "angry birds" scene.  Have boxes set up in different positions with the plush pigs/balloons arranged in different ways  Have the water balloon launchers and balls at one end of the gym.

Introduction: Ask who has played "Angry Birds."  Ask what the birds are attacking.  Explain that everyone has their own personal "pigs" in life.  Mention different things that these pigs could represent: selfishness, putting others or yourself down, drugs or alcohol, gossiping, backbiting, anger, violence, lying, stealing, cheating, pride, etc.  Have each of the participants write down on a piece of paper their own personal pig and then put this paper in their back pocket.  Let them know what they write on the paper does not need to be shared with the rest of the group.  The activity will help them understand and identify ways that they can defeat those "personal pigs."  Have them think about ways they can overcome their personal pigs as they launch balls at the pigs.

Activity Description: Have the group divide into two smaller groups and each group will be next to one of the water balloon launchers.  Have two patients in each group hold onto an end of the water balloon launcher while a third participant launches a few balls at the pigs.  Have each group rotate through giving each person an opportunity to launch a few balls.

Debriefing Questions/Closure:
-Tell me what we just did.
-Why did I have you write down something at the beginning?  Did it make attacking the pigs more meaningful?  How?
-In the game of Angry Birds, what do the pigs steal?  What has your own personal pig stolen from you?
-The pigs are on top of or behind boxes... How have you raised your pigs up or hidden them from others?
-I'm calling it a personal pig... But does my personal pig only affect me?  Who else could it affect?  How?
-What do the balls/birds represent?  What are some tools, techniques, or ways that we can defeat our pigs? How can they help us do so?
-The two people holding onto the launcher helped you defeat your pigs.  Who could those two people represent?  How can you communicate with your support system to better achieve your goals?

**Not all these questions need to be asked every time...know your patients and their needs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

12 Ways to Love You

Here's another handout from Pinterest.  I think it is a great list and would be especially perfect for working with adolescent females.

Living Life "Single-Handedly"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Final Goodbyes

Here's yet another idea I found on Pinterest.  I saw the image and was super excited to share it with you all.  I image it being a perfect discharge or graduation activity, something that can symbolize the progress the patient has made throughout treatment.


Construction paper
Colored pencils, markers, crayons
Other art supplies

Have the patient make a piece of artwork to symbolize her growth and the lessons she's learned in treatment.  Encourage her to make it meaningful and significant, personal to her journey through treatment.  This can be done ahead of time if desired.  During the group, have the person share her piece of artwork with the others. Lead a group about the benefits of treatment and the importance of recognizing the progress each patient makes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Through the Ring

This is one of the first activities I did for a family RT session, which I learned from Karl Jensen, a rec therapist at a residential treatment center for teenage boys.

Purpose:  To help patients learn to work together to accomplish a common goal, to communicate effectively, and to learn to trust each other.  Also to help patients develop creative problem solving skills and gain a deeper understanding of perseverance.

Hula hoop

Hang the hula hoop (from a tree, from a post, etc.) so that it is high enough that patients will have some difficulty getting through it, but not high enough that is impossible.  Attach some bells to the hula hoop so that it is obviously if someone hits it.

Have everyone stand on one side of the ring.  Instruct them that their task is to get everyone on the other side of the ring, but the following conditions are in place.
  1.  Everyone has to go through the ring (not under it, over it, or around it)
  2.  If anyone hits the hula hoop and the bells jingle, everyone has to start over
  3.  If someone goes over to the other side (through the ring), the only way they can get back to the first side  is to go through the ring again.

The task is complete once everyone is on the other side of the ring.

Talk about how the activity went.  Consider the following questions:
-What worked and what didn't?
-Did the group have to start over?  How many times?
-What was the most frustrating part of the task?
-Who took on what roles during the activity?
-Did you make a plan to succeed?  What was that plan?
-Is there a "right" way to complete this activity?
-Is it possible to complete this activity by yourself?  Why or why not?
-How do our relationships impact our interactions with others?
-Did you feel that your boundaries or personal space was invaded during this activity?  How?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Coping Skills Jeopardy

At our facility, we LOVE playing Jeopardy games because it's easy to accommodate a large group with.  I believe that Jill Sederberg, CTRS created this jeopardy game.

I love to throw in the jokes category because humor is a great coping skill and it helps the patients feel more at ease and have fun.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leisure Education Collages

I got this idea from Adrianna Markley, CTRS.  I tried it in a group recently and it worked out amazingly well!!

Construction paper

Begin with a discussion about leisure.  Talk about what leisure is.  Consider the following definition:

   Leisure: freedom from the demands of work or duty, whether it is an activity or just free time.  It is something that challenges us, but is not too difficult.

Discuss why leisure is important.  Talk about how health conditions can prevent leisure.

Discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy leisure activities.  Ask the group what leisure means to them, and what activities they would like to participate in.

Instruct patients to create a leisure collage of activities they like to do or would like to try using pictures from the magazines.

Afterwards, have each person share their collages.  Talk about the pictures they included and how these activities can impact their mental health.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Support Looks Like

So I think this will be a new thing... Awesome handouts posted on Fridays.  Yes?  What are your favorite handouts?  Comment with a link or description and I'll feature them in the coming weeks.

This is yet another one I found on Pinterest.

Sources of Support ~

This would be a great handout for a discussion about support systems, whether patients are trying to establish a support system, strengthen an existing one, or be a better support for a friend/family member.  Discuss what support looks like for each person.  Talk about how that differs from individual to individual.  See what other ideas you can add to this list that would specifically benefit each patient.  You could also talk about how to ask for support when needed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day "Minute to Win it" Games

What's not to love about "Minute to Win It" games?  I found a website that had some Valentine's day adaptations.  Hope you enjoy it!

All of the details are on that blog so I'm just going to list them here with a very brief overview and you can head over to for all the instructions!


1.  Heart-A-Stack:  stack conversation hearts as high as you can in one minute.

2.  Marshmallow Toss: Toss as many heart shaped marshmallows as possible into a partner's plastic cup (or mouth!) in one minute.

3.  Love Spot: Put a dab of vaseline on each person's nose and see how fast they can get a red pom pom to stick.

4.  Heart Pick Up: Use chopsticks (or two pencils) to transfer little cinnamon heart candies from one plate to another in one minute.

5.  Candy Corn Stick Up: Use Valentine's candy corn and bite off the end, then stick them up around a paper plate.  See who has the most standing after one minute.

6.  Pink Mummy:  Wrap a partner in pink crepe paper as a mummy.

I'm sure there's a lot of other fun adaptations for other Minute to Win it games.  What others activities did you include in your Valentine's party?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tissue Paper Hearts

This is a Valentines adaptation to a fun craft I found on Pinterest.  Hope you enjoy it!!


Red, White and Pink tissue paper
Elmer's glue
Construction paper

Draw a large heart on the construction paper and then cut it out.  Cut or tear the colored tissue paper into small pieces (about 1 inch).  Twist the little pieces of tissue paper and glue onto the heart.  Place the tissue paper as close together as possible.  Continue until the heart is full.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Conversation Hearts

I originally saw this on a fun website and thought it would be a fun reminiscing or getting to know you activity.

dinner conversation hearts questions

Construction Paper

Cut out lots of paper hearts of varying sizes.  On one side, write cute Valentine's Day sayings such as "Be Mine," "U R Cute," "Sweet Heart," I Luv U" etc.  On the other side, write various discussion questions.

Sample questions include:
What is one thing you could never live without?
What is/was your favorite school subject?
If you could visit any country, where would you go and why?
If you could be any animal, which animal would you be?
Pick one adjective to describe your personality.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
What is your favorite food?
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you remember most about your wedding day?
What was the most awkward first date you ever went on?
What color best describes your personality?
The list is endless!! Adapt it to meet the needs of your patients!

This could also be adapted to whatever theme you're discussing that day.  For example, when discussing coping skills you could write questions about coping skills.  Or anger management, dealing with depression, emotions, etc.

Another modification would be to make the questions in group one day and answer them in the next group session.  That way the patients can create the questions they want answered.  (Just make sure that all questions are appropriate!!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Heart Shaped Animals

I was looking around on Pinterest for some fun Valentine's Day crafts and found quite a few.  This week I'll highlight a few of my favorites.

Today's craft: Heart Shaped Animals.
Pinned Image
Red, white and pink construction paper
Other arts and crafts supplies (i.e. stickers, yarn, buttons, etc.)

Have the patients cut out hearts of various sizes.  These will be the basis of the animals.  The animals can be as complicated or as simple as you wold like.

If safety is a concern, or for young children, have the hearts pre-cut.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In Other Words...

I don't know about you, but I feel like I use the same words over and over again in my charting.  I found this handout on Pinterest and thought I'd pass it along.  Some of the words are pretty simple, but imagine how you could improve your progress notes with a few of these words.

Great for charting...other ways to say...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Human Knot

This is a classic ice-breaker game and teamwork activity, but I thought I would post it today so we have it here as a resource.  Enjoy!


To form the knot, have the participants stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.  Have everyone hold out their right hands and place it in the center.  Hold right hands with another person.  Then do the same with the left hands.  Make sure that the left hand is holding a different person's hand than the right hand!  The object is to untangle the knot by using good communication and moving over and under the group until the knot is untangled.

Process the activity.  Discuss what worked and didn't work as the group tried to undo the knot.  Talk about boundaries if necessary.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Are You Peeling?

I read this book in a group during my internship.  My co-intern Katie Greenland and I had a blast preparing this lesson!

As we read this book with the kiddos, we had them play special attention to the pictures.  We then talked about what the faces looked like and how different emotions are expressed differently.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

I first learned this intervention as an intern from my supervisors Laura Joesten and Jill Comarell.  It was so much fun with the kiddos!!

Sandwich Bread
Peanut Butter
Paper Plates

Have the patients sit around the tables.  Hand them each a piece of paper and a pencil.  Have the children write down the directions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Give the patients plenty of time to write down the directions, step by step.  Explain the importance of being accurate in their descriptions.

Once the children have all written down directions for making a sandwich, pick one child's paper and proceed to follow the directions.  Read the directions out loud as you are making the sandwich.  Do EXACTLY what the directions say, for example if the directions say take the people butter and spread it, spread it anywhere you want because the directions did not say to spread the peanut butter on the bread. If it doesn't say to use a knife, use just your hands (with gloves of course!). Continue to try and make the sandwiches with each of the children's directions.

Talk about the experience.  What did this activity help the kids realize?  Consider the following questions:
  -Why is it important to make sure directions are clear?
  -What are some situations where it is especially important to have clear communication?
  -What are situations in which it is really easy to get confused?
  -What can you do to better understand what someone tells you?
  -Whose responsibility is it to see that directions are clear and understood?

Monday, February 4, 2013

S.T.O.P. Handout

This is a great visual when working with kids.  It can be applied to many different situations, but I usually reference it when talking about coping skills or managing anger, anxiety, etc.  

I would give them the handout, and then talk about the "Stop" process.  Discuss what each step means and how we can apply it.  Have patients come up with specific examples.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Here's how we made a fun game therapeutic!

Everyone in the group comes up with a "sign" of their own.  For example, touching their nose, sticking out their tongue, standing up, snapping their fingers, etc.  After everyone has decided upon and shared their sign with the group, one player is sent out of the room.  This person will be the first guesser.

One person still in the room is selected to begin the game.  He starts by making his own sign, and then making the sign of another player, effectively "passing" the sign from person to person.  The person who player 1 passed it to makes her own sign, effectively "receiving" the sign, and then passes it to someone else.

Once the sign is being passed around, invite the guesser back into the room.  The goal is to identify the person who has the sign as it is being passed.  Players passing the sign try to be sneaky so the guesser can't figure out who "has" the sign.

Play multiple rounds of the game.

To process, you can talk non-verbal communication and the importance of eye contact.  Talk about what it was like for the guesser not to have all the information.  Does this ever happen in our lives?  How so?  How do we feel in these situations?  How do we fix this?

Talk about what "signs" and non-verbal communication we give others.  Do we accurately explain ourselves?  How can we improve non-verbal communication?