Fun group activities for adults group therapy
Try these fun and effective group therapy activities for adults, teens, and kids!
If you run a lot of therapy groups, you’re familiar with the pressure. What are you going to talk about today? Will everyone show up? When will you have time to write all these notes?
I empathize, and I’m here to help. Below are 11 ideas for group therapy activities that can keep your group interested, learning, and engaged. Most of them can be adapted to use with any group, with options appropriate for kids, teens, adults, and families.
Therapy Bingo Games
DBT Board Games
CBT Board Games
Therapy card games
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1. Feelings Games
Everyone loves to talk about feelings! Well, maybe not everyone, but it’s usually a more comfortable topic for therapists and therapy groups who are familiar with the idea.
Feelings games can be a way to reinforce such a discussion, or to teach feelings to newer groups.
Feelings games can be helpful for all ages, but may work particularly well for groups working on naming feelings or regulating emotions.
FEELOPOLY is a game that’s actually somewhat anti-Monopoly. It’s a unique format that encourages cooperation and naming and validating emotions. You really have to see it to get a sense of the game. Visit here to check it out.
2. Pictionary-Like Games
There’s nothing quite as fun as drawing and guessing games, at least from my experience. The simplest version for a therapy group is to play traditional Pictionary, with the use of a theme based on your group.
For example, perhaps you use thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (for a CBT group). Or maybe you find mindfulness topics for DBT (breathing, holding ice cubes). For younger kids (and sometimes young at heart) you might choose just feelings words (ie, draw “sad” or “angry”).
Some game versions combine drawing and charades. The Feel, Act, & Draw therapy game includes feelings-based prompts. It combines three categories: drawing, charades, and discussion prompts. It’s a good mix of more in-depth topics along with fun, active techniques that break the ice.
Visit here to check out Feel, Act, & Draw!
3. Therapy Bingo Games
There are various versions of therapy Bingo. The most basic ones include one Bingo card that’s more of a worksheet. Each group member gets the same card, and you circle or discuss topics like coping skills.
However, there’s a printable version of a CBT-based Bingo game called CBT L-I-N-G-O. It combines the therapy version with a realistic Bingo game.
Group members get unique cards (there are 10 different cards included) that each have numerous CBT-based prompts. The group then plays the game similarly to real Bingo.
When numbers are called they match them to their cards. However, for members to claim the space they must respond to the CBT prompt first. Prompts ask questions like, What’s the difference between a thought and a feeling? Or, what type of problems can CBT help with?
You can check out the Bingo-like game here.
4. Grounding Activities
Grounding techniques are a great group therapy activity because they help both in the moment and later on. You can focus on one grounding technique during a group session, or practice several. You might split the group into partners and have them each return to the group with a practice activity.
This will be familiar with DBT groups or those who’ve practiced mindfulness before.
Another cool activity involves using grounding stones. With grounding rocks you can combine the mindfulness exercise itself with a creative activity. Teach the grounding skill using rocks as an object and then have group members decorate their rocks.
You can also download this convenient grounding stone kit that includes instructions, posters, and a grounding stone worksheet that can go along with the activity. Learn more here.
5. Emotions Wheels
I think emotions wheels are one of the most popular tools I’ve come across in therapy. They’re used in nearly every setting, from workplace trainings to preschool classes. You can find various versions of feelings wheels and charts online and use them to discuss or practice identifying emotions.
For a convenient kit, check out this emotions wheel download that includes a worksheet version of the wheel. It focuses on identifying not only feeling words but the physical sensations that go along with emotions. Download it here.
6. DBT Board Games
When I used to run DBT groups I found that there are only so many ways you can teach and practice a given skill! To mix things up again, consider DBT games. There are a few board games that relate to DBT, including mindfulness-based activities.
One game in particular focuses on the four skill areas of DBT including mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, and distress tolerance.
The Greatest DBT Board Game (a fun theme based on carnivals or the circus) includes dozens of prompts to encourage members to review, discuss and practice DBT Skills.
Learn more about the DBT game here.
7. CBT Board Games
For CBT-based groups, or those who use related skills, CBT board games may also be helpful. They are a less intrusive way to prompt discussions about skills. Rather than putting someone directly on the spot, the discussion question comes as a fun challenge.
There are several CBT games available for group therapy. One particular download is a fun and easy version that includes meaningful CBT questions, called CBT Island Quest.
The prompts cover topics like the CBT triangle, how mindfulness can be helpful, and how someone might use CBT for self-care.
Check it out and download the game here.
8. Therapy Dice
Therapy dice are a tried and true conversation starter. Since everyone can easily play, they’re a great group therapy activity. You can use any cube from tiny dice to square UPS box for this game. Members throw the dice and answer a question based on where they land.
Sometimes the dice themselves have the prompts written on them, and sometimes questions will correspond to the color or number that’s rolled.
For a fun group activity, you can make your own dice with prompts. Check out this printable therapy dice kit that includes prompts as well as a template to make your own. The pre-made prompts cover feelings, DBT, CBT, and more.
You can cut out and assemble the dice ahead of time, or make it a group activity. (If your group isn’t allowed scissors, you can bring them pre-cut and the group can finish the job with tape.)
See examples of the therapy dice here.
9. Therapy Jenga
If any tool competes with emotion wheels among therapists, it would be therapy Jenga.
It’s perfect for bonding with kids, breaking the ice in a family session, and keeping a group engaged. Similar to the dice, the Jenga blocks include either prompts themselves or a color/number code.
When someone pulls out a block, they must answer a prompt before placing it on the top of the pile. There are many pre-made therapy stickers. One in particular, Feelings Jenga, includes prompts specific to emotions and coping. Check out the feelings set here.
10. Therapy Card Games
What if a therapy session could feel like family game night, but with less competition and more learning? Consider therapy flashcards and card games. There are a variety of games that can be adapted to therapy, such as Uno. For example, therapists sometimes assign feelings to each color, so if someone plays red, they would describe a time they felt angry.
Here are some other ideas including printable cards created specifically for therapy sessions and therapy groups.
Therapy Shuffle – for Teens and Adults
Therapy shuffle is a printable coping skills card game loosely inspired by a game called Fluxx. Players try to match coping skill cards with goals in the game. Meanwhile, the coping cards have prompts to discuss the coping skills listed.
Example coping skills include mindfulness, taking breaks, asking for help, or distraction.
You can see more and download the game here.
Magical Feelings Card Games – For Kids
This unicorn and dragon-themed deck is a great group activity. You can use the decks included as flashcards, or play actual card games.
Emotions Match, similar to match game, but you match feelings words with emotion faces
Go Feel, based on Go Fish, but you are fishing and discussing emotional dragons and unicorns
Happy Dragon, based on Old Maid but the goal is to end up with the happy dragon (and to discuss feeling words).
The magical emotions games are all included in one downloadable set. Learn more and get the printables here.
Magical Coping Skills Cards
The Magical Coping Skills Card deck is in the same series as the kids feelings cards (above). It’s primarily set up as flashcards, so it’s not exactly a game.
You can use the cards in groups to prompt discussion, and match difficult feelings from the other deck with the best coping skills.
Like the feelings deck, the cards have a magical theme with dragons and unicorns. Get it here.
11. Therapy Worksheets
Therapy worksheets are generally a bit more serious than therapy games but can also be a less intimidating way to work through a topic. When it comes to groups, they may be appropriate for teens or college activities.
I’d start with a basic worksheet, give the group members time to fill out their own, and then discuss answers with the group. You might also have members work in pairs to make it a bit less intense.
Depending on your topic, there are many online worksheets available. This CBT for Anxiety and PTSD set includes 8 worksheets focused on specific strategies. You might also start with the lighter CBT triangle worksheet here.
Download Multiple Activities at Once
I don’t run groups anymore, but I honestly wish I’d had more of these tools available when I did. There are so many options now to order or download unique activities. All of the above activities can be used multiple times, with different groups or often with the same one.
You can get all of the activities mentioned, plus many more, in our Entire Store Bundle.
Check out the bundle, or browse the individual options, here.
Meanwhile, good luck with your groups. The fact that you’ve read (or scanned) this far shows your dedication to helping those you work with. And I’m sure you deserve support for the hard work you do. Good luck and have fun!