Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Things Left Unsaid

Here is another activity submitted by Adrianna Markley, CTRS.  It's nice because it can be adapted for a variety of topics.


For patients to understand how communication styles may lead to things being unsaid.  To get out anything they wanted to say to someone but was never able to.

Lined paper
Trash can

Have each patient write a letter to someone that they never finished a conversation with. It can be under any circumstance (the person died, they never finished an argument, etc.). They can address it if they like but do not have to. It is important to note that nobody will be reading their letters. Patients can write whatever they like to whoever they want.

After patients are done writing their letters, ask how it feels to get those things out and why they weren't able to say it before.  Did they feel sad or angry?

Next have patients rip up and destroy their letters. Each pt gets to throw theirs into the trash can.

Ask how it feels to destroy the letter. Do they feel relieved? Are they sad? How do emotions affect our ability to communicate?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Anger Management Jenga

Here is another fun version of Jenga!  Submitted by the Activity Therapy department at Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital.


Play Jenga as usual. Based on the color of the dot on the end of the Jenga cube, pt. will be instructed to do the following:

     Red: name a symptom of Anger
     Green: Name a coping skills you can use when angry
     Blue: Name something that makes you angry
     Purple: State a goal you can make now to manage anger in the future

Afterwards, process with the group about how this activity required anger management skills. Talk about what was good about the group and what could be improved. Talk about why anger management is
important in life.

Don't forget to check out the Feelings Jenga, Social Skills Jenga, and the Communications Jenga!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Features of Mindfulness

Today's handout was also found on Pinterest, but originally posted here.  How do you encourage patients to practice mindfulness?

Pinned Image

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Write Your Own Obituary

This activity was submitted by Adrianna Markley, CTRS.


Purpose: Encourage patients to reflect on their lives and how others perceive them.


Have patients write their own obituary and then read it aloud to the group.  Have the patient explain why he/she wrote certain things.  Would others recognize the same things?  Why would there be differences? What would the patient like others to notice and remember about themselves?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Perfect Square

Here is another activity from the book "Great Group Games: Boredom-busting, Zero-prep Team Builders for All Ages" by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor.  Isn't this book a great resource??

A long rope/string/yarn
Blindfolds (one per person)
Large, flat, open playing area


Each person is blindfolded.  Instruct each person to hold onto the rope.  Explain that they have 15 minutes to work together to form a perfect square.  Each person must keep holding onto the rope throughout the entire task.  No one may remove their blindfold until the square is formed.  When the group believes they have formed the square, they should stand in place, drop the rope on the ground, open their eyes and see what they did.

Assign people who cannot talk in this activity for an added challenge.

***It may be helpful to have staff supervise and make sure no one runs into anything, etc.***

-Did you feel you had a meaningful role to play?
-What was challenging in this game?  What was easy?
-Did the group develop a plan? How?
-How did the plan evolve over time?
-What can you learn from this group about communication and problem solving?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Catch Phrase

This is another game that I use in our "Activity Nights" with our adolescent groups frequently.  It's great for a large group, and lots of fun!  I also think it works really well when we discuss anxiety.  The game beeps faster and faster as time runs out, and people always get anxious as we play!  It provides a great opportunity to discuss how anxiety influences our performance, and give participants an opportunity to overcome an anxious situation.

Monday, April 22, 2013


This is actually a group that the nurses at my facility often play for their nursing groups.  With a bit more processing, I think it would make a great RT group.  The best part is that it can be adapted to almost any topic!!

Here's how it would work, using the topic "Anger Management" as an example.

Each person is given three sheets of paper.  On the first sheet, they write something that makes them angry.  On the second sheet, they write how they usually respond to the situation.  On the third sheet, they write how  they want to deal with anger in the future.

The papers are all put in a pile.  For the first round, you use the first papers; the second round, the second papers, etc.

One person goes to the whiteboard, picks a paper and draws the situation.  The others try to guess.  After all the first round papers have been used, process different things that make us angry.  Go on to the second round, and then process how we respond to anger.  Complete the third round, and then talk about how we can more effectively manage anger in our lives, and encourage patients to set a goal about this topic.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Anxiety in the Body

This is one of my go to activities on the days we discuss anxiety.  It requires very little prep and the patients pretty much guide the processing!


Give each patient a handout with the blank person on it. The activity is divided into three segments.

First, have them write in the body how they feel anxiety.  For example, if they have a headache, write that in the head, if their palms sweat, write that on the hands, etc.
Discuss with the group the various ways we all feel anxiety. 

Second, have the patients write on the outside of the body different situations that cause them anxiety (i.e. tests, social situations, family, etc.) and discuss with the group.

Third, on the back of the paper, have patients write down as many coping skills as they can to cope with anxiety.  Try to be as specific as possible, and come up with a specific coping skill for each anxiety provoking situation listed on the front of the paper.  Discuss with the group.  Conclude with the 50 Ways to Take a Break Handout.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pieces of My Heart

This is an activity I found on Pinterest around Valentine's Day, but I think it works really well when discussing self esteem and identity development.  The original idea was posted here.

Pinned Image

Construction paper
Markers/colored pencils/crayons

Have each patient draw a large heart on their paper.  Have them divide the heart into sections for various thins that are important to them, for example people they love, activities they enjoy, things that make them who they are, etc.  Have them decorate each section of the heart.

Talk about how each person is unique and there are lots of different things that define who we are.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Name Art

I did this with our geriatric patients a few weeks ago.  It was a lot of fun, and gave us a lot of things we could process.

Colored pencils, crayons, markers

Explain to patients that we will be making "Name Art" projects.  They will use their names to create a unique piece of artwork that describes them.  Emphasize that there is no "right" way to do this, just use the letters of their name to describe something about themselves.  Encourage patients to fill the whole paper.

Here are a few examples you can show them to get their ideas flowing:




Afterwards have patients share their pictures.  Talk about things that make each person unique and the importance of developing a positive self-concept and identity.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blind Count

Here's yet another activity from the book "Great Group Games: Boredom-busting, Zero-prep Team Builders for All Ages" by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor.


Have the patients spread out in a large, open area and close their eyes.  Explain that their goal is to count aloud (as a group) from 1 to 10.  They must say the numbers one at a time, a different person saying the next number, no two people saying the same number at the same time.  If they mess up, they have to start over.  There is NO TALKING except for saying the ten numbers, no planning, and no peeking.

-Did this activity frustrate you?  Why or why not?
-In this game, players faced two handicaps: you couldn't see and you couldn't plan a strategy.  Are there situations in life in which people cope with multiple disadvantages on a daily basis?  What are they? What can you do to help empower them or help them to overcome such challenges?
-In what ways do the frustrations of this game make you more empathetic and compassionate to others who are struggling?
-Describe situations where you felt you were working "in the dark."
-How do you keep your personal power strong when you face tough situations?
-How does planning and preparing help you succeed?
-Did the group work together to complete this task?  How?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Overcoming Fear

I found this handout while searching online the other day and thought it would be perfect for a Friday handout.  Hope you enjoy it.  Originally posted here.

How do you help your patients overcome fear??

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Drawing Bugs

I found this activity here while searching on the internet a while back and it has since been one of my favorite communication activities!

Paper and pen/colored pencils/crayons for each person.

Tell the patients that they will be drawing a bug for group today.  You will describe the bug, and they will draw what you describe.  Explain that they will not be able to see the bug you are describing, and they they cannot ask questions or talk to each other.  I often repeat each step two times.

Describe the bug:
1. The bug is round.
2. The bug has eight legs, grouped in pairs with four legs on the left and four legs on the right.  In the pairs, one leg is longer than the other.
3. The bug has two eyes on top of the body.
4. The bug has two squiggly antenna.
5. The bug has two pea-pod shaped wings.
6. The bug has a spot next to each wing.
7. The bug has a triangular stinger on the bottom of the body.
8. The bug has two feelers on each foot - one longer than the other, both coming from the same side of the leg.
9. The bug has a round mouth, placed between the two eyes.
10. The bug laid five square eggs, to the left of the stinger.

After everyone is finished, have the patients hold up their bugs for everyone to see.  Note some of the similarities and differences.  Then hold up your bug (drawing can be found HERE).  Discuss the differences.

-Why don't all the bugs look like mine? (Interpretation: everyone has a different interpretation, based on his or her experiences.)
-What did you think of first when you were told to draw a bug?  What did you see in your mind?
-What could we have done differently so that your drawings and mine would have looked more alike?
-What would have been the advantages of allowing questions to be asked?
-How many of you wanted questions to be asked?

We also talk about perspectives, ad how perspective affects communication.

Adapted from A Kaleidoscope of Leadership, Minnesota Extension Service.           

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hunt For Happiness

This is an activity originally found here.

The idea is to create a positive thinking scavenger hunt, for either children, adolescents or adults.  Instruct patients to make a list of things that they feel make life worth living, or things that make them happy, or make them smile.  Then go on a "scavenger hunt" to try and find as many of these items as possible.

Create a collage using magazines.  Search through the magazines for the things listed and then create a visual reminder for the patients of all the things they love.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Here is another activity from the book "Great Group Games: Boredom-busting, Zero-prep Team Builders for All Ages" by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor.


Gym (or other large, open space)
Soft foam, fabric and/or tennis balls

Have the group stand in a large, open area.  One player will throw a ball high into the air.  Another player will catch it.  If the second player successfully caught the ball, the facilitator will give a third player a ball.  At the same time, the two balls are thrown into the air and two other players catch them.  Throwers can't catch the ball they throw, but they can catch other ones.  With each successful toss and catch, introduce another ball into the game.  If anyone drops a ball, give the group time to come up with a new strategy and then start over with one ball.

-How did the game change with the addition of each new ball?
-Did you revise any strategies as you added balls? Why or why not?
-How do you respond to changes in life?
-Is change bad or good?  Explain.
-When you experience change, how can you handle it with personal power and confidence?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Exercise Dice

Here's an idea to add a little variety to your exercise groups, and include participants in the process.  I've adapted the Roll of the Dice activity to create this one.


You will need two dice for this activity.  I bought two big Styrofoam cubes and painted them to look like dice.

At the beginning of the exercise group, brainstorm with the participants various exercises to do.  This might include sit ups, push ups, calf raises, burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, plank, leg lifts, etc.  Assign one to every value on the dice (2-12).

Turn on some fun, upbeat music and let the first person roll the dice.  Based on what he rolls, do the corresponding exercise.  Continue until everyone has had a turn to roll the dice at least once!

Friday, April 5, 2013

21 Suggestions for Success

This week's handout is from Pinterest and was originally posted here.  How would you define success?  What would success look like for your patients?

Pinned Image

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ha, Ha

Here is another activity from the book "Great Group Games: Boredom-busting, Zero-prep Team Builders for All Ages" by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor.

Have the first person lie down on his/her back on the floor.  The second person then lies down with his/her head on the first person's stomach.  Players continue laying down in this manner until everyone is connected. {Make sure patients can handle this and stay appropriate; if not, find another way to set up the game!}

Without laughing, the first player says "Ha!" The second player then says "Ha, ha!" and the third "Ha, ha, ha!"  Play continues with each new player adding another "ha" each time.  If someone laughs for reals, the group must restart the game with a new leader.
Questions to Consider:
-What makes you laugh?
-Why is laughter good for us?
-How can we laugh more each day?
-How can laughter help us overcome challenges in life?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two Paths

At our facility, we have a day where we talk about creating your own path and not just reacting to life.  We also talk about how our behavior affects those around us.  This idea was originally introduced by Jill Sederberg, and later modified by Heidi Bolster.

Read the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost to begin with and discuss the following questions:
-Do you know exactly what will hapen when you make a choice
-Can you come back from a bad decision?
-What roads (choices) do you have ahead of you now?
-Where do you think those choices will lead you?
-Where do you want/need to go?

Next, have the patients draw two paths that they have right now in their lives.  Draw what choices will lead you down each path, how you are affected, and how those you care about are affected.


Discuss what path/choices are going to take them to a life that they can be proud of and happy with?  Why?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Story Circles

This is an activity taken from the book "Great Group Games: Boredom-busting, Zero-prep Team Builders for All Ages" by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor.  It is an awesome book with lots of great idea for activities!


For the story circles game, have the patients sit in a circle.  The first person begins the story by stating one sentence.  The person to the right then adds the second sentence to the story, and so on and so forth.  With no established conclusion, the story can take on as many twists as you want!

-When you heard the first few sentences, did you ever imagine the outcome of your group story?
-What is the value of group thinking versus individual thinking?
-How are individual thoughts and expressions important in group thinking?
-How can you create a safe space for individual sharing within this group?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sidewalk Chalk!

 With the weather warm, I took the adolescent unit outside a few weeks ago to enjoy the sunshine.  They loved using the sidewalk chalk.  It proved to be an awesome activity because they could use their creativity and there were very few boundaries placed on them.  We could process what they drew/wrote and it provided the basis for a unique discussion based on their needs.  Here are some pictures!