Today’s post is a guest post is by Lisa Remey. She offered this great technique for working with groups and families. Save it for when you are struggling in those tough family sessions. It’s an effective, inexpensive, and low-prep technique.
Group and family sessions are difficult for a variety of reasons, from personality differences, conflicting goals, to plain ol’ lack of communication. As a therapist, it may feel that you are there to just act as a referee instead of working towards solutions.
If this sounds like a struggle you have ever faced, I’ve got a great technique to help you through these tough sessions- the mutual drawing technique
The mutual drawing technique can be used with a variety of clients and issues, but it is particularly effective with clients seeking to learn more effective ways of co-parenting and possible reunification. The therapeutic focus of mutual goal setting utilizes play-based techniques and doesn’t need a lot of extra, expensive materials to be effective, which is very nice for those in non-traditional settings.
So, if you are looking for something to use when working in a group of family setting, this is technique is great. It is playful and works to improve communication. Stick this technique in your metaphorical back pocket!
Mutual Drawing Technique
Theme: Communication, Teamwork, Mutual Goal Setting,
Treatment Modality: Group, Family
Age Range: Ages 6 to Adult
Stage of Treatment: Beginning, Working
- To learn importance of effective communication skills
- To increase communication and teamwork
- To teach working towards a common/mutual goal
- Blank Paper
- Pencil/Writing Utensil
- Slips of Paper
Explain to clients that the activity will be completed without talking. Each client will be given one piece of paper, pencil, and a slip of paper. The therapist should have slips of paper prepared in advance.
1st Picture: Paper, pencil, and a slip of paper are given to each person. On this slip of paper, directions are written as to what each client should draw, such as a bunny or a cow. What is written on the slip of paper is kept private. Without talking or sharing instructions, clients will each draw what is written on his or her slip of paper.
2nd Picture: One new piece of paper, pencil, and slip of paper are given to each client. The second time, all clients receive the same instruction as to what to draw (dog for example). Again, the individual directions on the slips of paper are not shared between clients. Each client draws as instructed on the piece of paper without talking.
3rd Picture: With the 3rd picture, a piece of paper, pencil, and one slip of paper are given for all in the group to see and share (could do activity talking or continue with no talking). Clients proceed to share one pencil and make one drawing.
Optional 4th Picture: Same process with talking.
This activity promotes discussion and encourages teamwork, communication, and mutual goal setting. Through this activity, you can engage clients in processing their experience and feelings and reflect on each stage of the drawing activity. Communication strategies and others point of view will likely be hot-button topics. This technique will serve to illustrate and illuminate communication patterns in groups and families.
This technique is one that can be effectively done with couples, groups, and children both in the clinical setting as well as in school settings. I encourage you to give it a try with any of your clients who may be stuck reaching a goal, as an opening to teaching communication skills, or to discuss the importance of working as a team.
Lisa Remey, LPC, RPT, NCC counseling experiences span over two decades ranging from school counseling, private practice setting, creating a program for disaster counseling in schools, and providing trainings. Lisa’s primary role for the past 19 years has been as a military spouse, helping her family cope with 7 deployments, many moves as well as supporting military families. Lisa is a contributing author and publisher of Lion’s Pride: A Tail of Deployment, Bronze Medal winner from Military Writers Society of America, and Lion’s Pride On the Move. She has also enjoyed presenting on the subject of military families with appearances on Army Wife Network Talk Radio, American Warrior Radio, developing and co-leading programs for military kids. To connect with Lisa, visit her facebook page, Lisa Remey, LPC, RPT, NCC.