The uncharted depths of our minds are almost impossible to fathom. They can only be reined and brought under control by our own efforts. Nobody else can help you restore your sanity and a sense of reality. You can always bank upon a therapist or a psychologist or a counselor or even a like-minded person. But that person can only guide you. Ultimately, you have to chart your own course to being mentally healthy and not let things affect you, and maintain your mental balance in any condition. However, if the mental imbalance is the result of a specific situation, then, there is a better chance of restoration of the imbalance or the disruption. But there are those who are born with some disabilities and they cannot win over it. Group therapy activities help them cope up with this not being ‘normal’ state. But these are needed at all ages by some people, be it a 7 year old kid, 27 year old woman or a senior citizen.
These activities are a part of psychotherapy and in that, specifically recreational therapy. They really work wonders and serve the dual purpose of entertaining the patients as well as giving the patients a clearer picture of what is going on in their minds.
A fundamental aspect of any group activity is interaction among the members. So this activity is a pathway as it seeks to introduce the members to each other. This also makes the members comfortable. It helps them open up and express themselves freely. For example, all the participants are asked to introduce themselves and discuss their dream job. They can give details about the job location as well.
This involves trust building activities like Willow in the Wind, Trust Lean, Eye contact and so on. In the Willow in the Wind, a participant stands in the middle of a circle that includes the other group members. The one in the middle will lean on the others and he or she will be passed around. In trust lean, one becomes the catcher and the other the faller.
In this activity, all group members are asked to feel free and uninhibited about their lives and life experiences. This is a crucial follow-up to the trust building exercise. This will make those who are kind of hesitant to share their lives, to do so after hearing others telling about their lives. And if members find some common aspects in each others lives, it gets easier.
For example, ask the participants to discuss the qualities of their most loved person and also the reason why they love that person the most.
Role playing is a very interesting activity, where the participants can don a role or portray some character which they are not. Or they can vent their emotions better by playing someone else. The members have to, although, make a conscious effort to portray that character. This is supposed to be quite an effective activity. For example, ask each participant to portray their favorite cartoon character. They can enact some famous gestures of the character.
Bursting the Balloon
In this activity, the group members are given paper and pen and are asked to write down any one question that comes to their mind. Then each of them are asked to blow a balloon and place the papers in them. The balloons are mixed and the members take turns to pick any one of them. Then they need to burst the balloon and answer the question hidden inside. For example, the questions can be like, Why do you look unhappy?, Which is your favorite color?, etc.
Yes or No
The leader of the activity chooses one item from the room and allows the members to guess it. Each member is supposed to ask any question regarding the item. But the question should be in the form of either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. These random questions will help the members to identify the item. For example, if the object is a flower vase, the participants can ask questions like, Is the object round in shape?, Is it white in color?, etc.
2 Minute Dating
The group members are asked to date any random person for two minutes. After they are done, they are asked to jot down the positive and negative points about the person. When read aloud, the individual will realize what impression the other person has of him. This will create a sense of self-confidence and also allow the person to overcome the negative ones.
Match the Following
In this activity, the members are asked to sit down on the floor, in two rows facing each other with their legs stretched. Two opposite facing members belong to one team and they are numbered accordingly. When the leader calls out the team number, the corresponding team members should run by jumping over the leg barriers and reach the table where the cards are present. The members have to match the cards and run back to their original positions.
There are other activities like debates, embroidery, jokes, listening to music and knitting, which are meant for the elderly.
Ice breakers are common in case of children as well. The following, however, will be useful post the ice breaking activities.
The Not so Common
Divide the children in two groups and a maximum of 4 child in each one. Ask them to find three things common to each other and frame questions regarding the same. This is of course for older kids. The answers should be given in turns while reading it out to all the other members.
For example, if the three common things are watching cartoons, playing cricket and eating chocolate; then the questions they can ask are, Which brand of chocolate do you like?, What is your highest score in cricket?, Which is your favorite cartoon?, and so on.
Did Someone Do This?
Ask a question and ask every one to take the signature of all those who did it. In case they require different signatures for every question, they will get to know as many people as they can. For example, the question can be, Who went to a park this weekend? The question should be such that at least a few participants should have done it.
Ball of a Time
For those who are not confident about public speaking and have problems with it, this activity is effective. In this, the members sit in a group and just like passing the parcel, pass the ball, but the only difference is that the leader passes the ball to a member. Whoever gets the ball has to give her or his name and tell something about himself or herself.
Color the Picture
This is for the younger ones. Give the kids a drawing each and ask them to color it using only one color. After they are done, ask them to explain the reason behind using the color and explain them the significance of the various colors; like red is associated with anger, black with sadness, white with peace, etc.
Take Out Bubbles
For most of us, anger is our biggest enemy. It is very important to teach kids, the ways to curb it. Ask them to sit relaxed and then inhale air and exhale it slowly. Ask them to repeat this when they are angry. This will help them control their anger and keep their cool.
Change the Picture
Every kid has a fear in his mind, be it fear of the dark, some monster or may be a ghost. Ask them to draw a picture of their fear. Now, allow their imagination to go wild and decorate their fear with some hats, jackets or with anything that would amuse them. In this way, the kids will start changing the picture of the fear in their mind and will slowly overcome the fear.
For example, if the kids are scared of the dark, they can be asked to draw a dark room. Then they can fill it with some fun lights, draw a few windows that emit light. This will help them overcome their fear of the dark.
This activity is useful for the hyper-active kids. Ask all the kids to write down some activities on a piece of paper and collect them in a bowl. Now let the kids take turns to perform the activities in slow motion. Award them for doing it as slowly as possible. This will make the child more self controlled while performing any activity. For example, the activities can be filing a bottle of water, running from one end of the room to the other, picking pieces of paper lying on the floor, etc.
There can be lots of variations, depending upon what kind of a group it is. It can be very general and can go on to be very specific activities meant for serious psychological and personality development issues.
For people suffering from psychological issues, it is very important that they indulge in such activities to avoid further complications. At the end of the day, a wide array of group activities is great, as far as the people suffering from a problem feel and traverse the path towards normalcy and self-realization.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health expert.