Group activities are a relatively modern way of therapy, and evidence shows that they are one of the most effective ones. Trust is a very important group therapy topic, since it helps build confidence in the participants and helps them in cultivating new relationships. Divide the participants in pairs; blindfold one member and make him draw a diagram by listening to the instructions of the other teammate. After the diagram is finished, give another diagram, this time reversing the roles.
Self-help groups all over the world use group therapy as a tool to propagate better living and educate participants on the benefits of the same. Renowned self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been using group therapy activities in their efforts to defeat the respective addiction since the mid-1930s.
These groups used the medium of sharing experiences to impart strength and hope as they discovered the therapeutic value of helping one another. Realizing the benefit of these activities, psychologists have also included group therapy as an integral part of psychotherapy.
One of the advantages of group therapy over one-on-one counseling is that participants are encouraged and morally empowered by the knowledge that they are not alone in suffering. When individuals share their experience, others in the group identify with them and, in turn, are better equipped to deal with their own problems. Group therapy activities can help deal with a wide range of shortcomings, ranging from psychological to physical disabilities. Activities in a group session revolve around self-discovery, increasing self-esteem and building trust between the participants.
For most people it’s difficult to open up in front of other people – even if it’s a therapist – hence the crucial part of most group sessions is breaking the ice with a fun activity. These games are generally used to acclimatize the participants to the group. They are also quite efficacious in setting the right tone for a group session, which requires all individuals to contribute. One of the most important elements of group sessions is ‘trust’, so trust-building games and activities should be the focus in the first few days. After the participants are comfortable with each other, a journey of self-discovery can begin with the help of activities and counseling.
One of the essential group therapy activities is to introduce oneself to the whole group, and, for some, it can be a daunting task. The ‘funny intro’ is a great idea to get people to introduce themselves to the group. You ask the participants to tell their first names and tell 3 funny things about themselves.
For example: My name is Sam. I talk in my sleep, always walk with my hands in my trouser pockets and make noises when sipping coffee.
Imitating celebrities is one of the sure-fire ways of getting a few laughs and lightening the mood in the session. You can even assign to each participant a celebrity that they have to mimic in front of the group. It is an interesting activity, as participants explore their talents of acting and socializing.
Clutter the floor with obstacles and pieces of furniture. Divide the group in pairs. One member from each team would be the ‘navigator’ and the other will navigate the course. The person navigating the course has to do it walking backwards without looking behind. It is the responsibility of the other team member to give correct directions to him. People with depression find this game very therapeutic as they start to realize the importance of trust.
“Ask it” Basket
Sharing is the integral tool of group therapy activities and getting the participants to share their experiences on relevant subjects is crucial. Ask the participants to write their strongest negative emotions. When they are done writing, ask them to fold the piece of paper and put it in a hat/bowl. Randomly call members from the group and ask them to pick a chit from the hat and share their experience on that emotion.
A good game to get people talking about their strengths and weaknesses is ‘spin the bottle’. Get a bottle and paste a (+) sign on the cap and a (-) sign on the bottom. Ask the participants to form a circle and then spin the bottle in the middle, just like any popular variation of the game. Whoever is directly in line with the (+) sign of the bottle will have to talk about their strengths and the one in line with the (-) sign has to talk about their traits that need to be worked on.
Using group therapy activities is one of the simplest ways of behavior modification, education, and transforming the participants’ outlook. Group therapy is being effectively used for people suffering with disorders like schizophrenia, depression, addiction, obesity, etc. It also has wider application and can be used to propagate well-being and personality development.