Icebreakers for group therapy

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Icebreakers for group therapy are one of the best tools you can have in your therapist’s toolbox as they are simple to implement, fun, and help participants engage with the group in ways that feel safe. This blog article will review icebreakers that can be used during group therapy and their benefits.

Whether you’re new to group therapy or a seasoned pro, one of the biggest challenges is getting the group started. You have your protocol in place but how do you get your participants to feel comfortable and prepare them to engage? 

Ice breakers are the answer and they help your group in critical ways including:

• Helping members get to know each other.
• Integrating new members into the group.
• Increasing comfort with others in the group.
• Encouraging listening and cooperation.
• Enhancing social skills.
Building rapport and trust.
• Setting a positive and supportive tone for the work they will be doing.
• Sets a positive, supportive tone for the work they will be doing.

Icebreakers are meant to be short, fun tasks that ease everyone into the work that’s about to begin. If a group is on your agenda, check out our top icebreakers for group therapy sessions.


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Two Truths and a Lie

In this popular game, each participant chooses three statements about themselves that they want to share with the group. Two of those statements are true while one is a lie. The other members of the group guess what is true and what is not for each person. If you’re using Two Truths and a Lie online, participants can write down their responses and show on the screen, or you can use an interactive white board.

Getting To Know You

Prepare a set of easy, open-ended questions or unfinished statements that participants can use to safely share a bit about themselves. Examples include:

• What is something about you that makes you feel positive and proud?
• What are you most looking forward to in this group?
• My favorite way to spend free time is…
• Something funny that happened to me recently is…
• What is something that we (the group) might be surprised to know about you?

You can use these in a number of ways. Questions or statements can be put on index cards or slips of paper and each member of the group draws a card so that each member answers a different question. Or, you can choose one as the “opener” for the session and everyone responds to the same question in turn. If you’re doing this activity online via a video conferencing platform, you can post questions using an interactive white board like the one in TheraPlatform or you can send the list to your group members using TheraPlatform’s document sharing capabilities.

Who Am I?

This is a short, fun icebreaker that is especially good for new groups or open groups that have new members frequently. Have each member introduce themselves and say their first name. Ask them to include a word that starts with the same letter as their name and describes what they consider a positive trait they have. For example, dynamic Debbie or kind Kenny. Refer to them in this way for the remainder of the session.


Give Me A Minute

This is a fun, fast-paced icebreaker for both new and established groups. The goal is to talk for one minute about a given subject. Have a set of cards or slips of paper with random subjects on them. Examples might include: ice fishing, the best way to make filet gumbo, favorite TV show ever, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, 5 best Disney rides, interesting facts about polar bears … you get the idea. Set a timer and each person has to talk about that subject for one minute. Your members will have lots of interesting things to say and probably a few laughs will be had. 

Desert Island 

This is a fun icebreaker that you can use with adolescents or adults and will no doubt prompt lots of engagement. For this activity, tell members to imagine they are being sent to a desert island. They will be able to take essential items like clothing and medicine, but will also be allowed three additional items: a survival item, an entertainment item, and a luxury item. The only caveat is that they have to be items they can carry onto the island by themselves. What will they choose for their three items and why? 

Give them a few minutes to come up with their items. Ask each person to share their choices with the rest of the group. Finding similarities with other members is a great way to begin building rapport.


Emoji Game

Finally, if you’re looking for an icebreaker specific to teletherapy, why not try the Emoji Icebreaker game? Using teletherapy software, ask people to express how they’re feeling with an emoji or ask each member to draw a face with an expression. Most people are familiar and comfortable using this type of communication and technology. Another option is using the List of Emotions worksheet which can help your clients better express their emotions and aids in building emotional literacy.

If you work with children, refer to this blog article discussing icebreaker activities for children.

All of these ice breakers can be easily conducted on TheraPlatform using their interactive screen sharing feature. TheraPlatform, an all-in-one EHR, practice management and teletherapy tool was built for therapists to help them save time on admin tasks. Ready to see how TheraPlatform can take your group sessions online? Sign up now for a free trial, no credit card required.

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