Social workers who run any type of group counseling sessions are charged with helping their group members develop into a team. The group participants are their own best support for growth and healing. Team-building can be an effective way to build self-esteem and trust between counselor and participants, and between the participants themselves.
Getting to Know You
Group activities that encourage participants to get to know each other are the first step toward team-building. One idea is to pair participants and give them guidelines for interviewing each other. Then have each participant introduce his partner to the group. Also, during the first few group sessions, ask participants to introduce themselves and be sure to repeat their names often yourself.
Part of team-building is encouraging each participant to improve his own self-image and to use positive language when in the group setting. One activity that can help with this is to sit the participants in a circle with a chair in the middle. Choose one person to sit in the chair and give him a tennis ball. Have the other members take turns saying something positive about the chosen person, who must remain silent and accept the compliments without comment. When everyone has had a turn to talk, have the person in the middle toss the ball to another participant to take his place in the chair.
Learning to Trust
Trust exercises help group participants learn to place trust in each other and in their counselor. One such activity is a "blind walk," which can be done outdoors or in a large room. Blindfold one participant. Set up an obstacle course using cones or boxes outdoors or chairs indoors. Instruct the seeing participants to guide the blindfolded person through the course using verbal cues. Then choose another participant to be blindfolded, change the obstacle course and run again until everyone has a turn.
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