Introducing activities into your family therapy sessions can be a powerful way to enhance engagement, create a warm and fun environment, and facilitate the exploration of important concepts in a developmentally appropriate manner, especially for children. These interactive activities can bring out different sides of family members, encourage playful and healthy interaction, build rapport, and allow the therapist to effectively role model, redirect, and provide positive reinforcement.
When it comes to incorporating activities into family therapy, balloons are a fantastic and accessible resource that can add an element of excitement to the session and continue the therapeutic work beyond the therapy room. Below are a few balloon-based activities that not only promote teamwork and group cohesion but also focus on essential skills such as attunement, communication, problem-solving, and conflict management.
These activities can serve both as assessments of family functioning and as opportunities to teach new skills. Take note of any patterns that emerge, observe how the family negotiates or resolves conflicts, and identify emerging leaders within the group. It is crucial to process each activity with the family afterward, discussing their experiences, observations, likes, dislikes, and areas they would like to work on. These activities can also be practiced at home, allowing families to continue their therapeutic journey outside of the therapy session.
- Juggling Issues: In family therapy, it is common for various topics to surface simultaneously as family members bring up multiple subjects. To address this, have each family member blow up a balloon and write a specific issue on it. Then, form a circle with the family members and encourage them to bat the balloons around without letting them touch the ground. As the activity progresses, gradually introduce more balloons, representing the ineffectiveness of trying to juggle multiple issues at once. Use this exercise to guide the family in selecting a specific issue to focus on during that session.
- Balloon Pass: Create a circle with the family or group and encourage them to come up with creative ways to pass a balloon around the circle. For example, they can use only their elbows or feet to pass the balloon. By working together to keep the balloon afloat without letting it touch the ground, this activity promotes teamwork, coordination, and communication among family members.
- Busy Balloons: Pair up family or group members and have them call out different body parts that they must use to keep the balloon in the air. For instance, they can use their noses, elbows, or other designated body parts. If there is an odd number of participants, family members can take turns being the ones who call out the body parts. This activity encourages focus, quick thinking, and cooperation among family members.
- Balloon Waddle: In this activity, each person holds a blown-up balloon between their legs, and the family or group must collectively find a way to navigate across the room without dropping the balloon. They can explore various strategies such as jumping, waddling, or rolling while ensuring the balloon remains intact. If someone accidentally drops the balloon, the whole group must come together, re-strategize, and start over. You can also modify this activity to include partner challenges or turn it into a relay race.
If you have any balloon activities that you use in therapy or any additional ideas to share, we invite you to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below. By collaborating and exchanging ideas, we can continue to enhance the therapeutic experience for families.