Beginning sessions with a new patient, especially a child or young adult, can be challenging, to say the least. Not only are you coming into a new relationship, you may be met with some resistance along the way.
Icebreaker activities are used to assist the client's adjustment to therapy and facilitate conversation. Examples of icebreaker activities include icebreaker cards, board games, free play, and emotions posters. There are hundreds of examples of icebreaker activities posted on the internet. Below are three examples:
Worries in a Hat
This is most effective in a group setting, but you can most certainly use it on an individual basis with young patients. The purpose of this exercise is to foster connections within a group by helping children start to address and deal with their worries or fears. Expressing fears and worries is a great way to minimize them, especially when they're simply being pulled from a hat. Individuals are instructed to write their fears on a piece of paper, and the papers are placed in a hat. When a fear is pulled from the hat, have the participants offer ways to deal with that fear. In addition to helping children address their fears, it can be an excellent way for them to connect over similar worries they might have.
There are a variety of ways to use building blocks in a counseling session. Participants can build parallel structures, take turns adding blocks to a common structure, or participants can take turns being the designer, and direct the builder on how to construct the design. Building blocks are a must have in any play therapy room. Building a structure with a child and then helping them tear it down can be an excellent bonding activity. The action of building something with another person fosters teamwork and social connections, especially if you're attempting to create a very specific structure.
Icebreaker cards can come in many forms. There are decks for young children, for young adults, and even for adult therapy sessions. One clever idea is the Totika Game with Icebreaker Cards. This is just one of many types of therapeutic games for children and for youths that can be quite useful. Simple questions regarding interests, worries, and even experiences can give you a solid idea about how to proceed with a new patient.
Icebreaker activities are often very helpful with anxious children. Anxiety disorders typically manifest in children around age six, and these icebreaker activities can be excellent method for not only making the new client comfortable, but also introduce strategies for dealing with anxiety.
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