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Taking the ​Escalator 

Substance Use Therapy Tools

Harm Reduction

12 Step Alternatives

takingtheescalator.com      Addiction and Substance Use Resource

      Non 12 Step Motivational Harm Reduction Tools for Substance Use & Mental Health

Taking the Escalator 

Forum

This page contains regular updates with brief group therapy modules, discussion points, icebreakers, . Unlike the  Group Activities by Topic page, the materials here are for shorter discussions, warm- ups and close outs as part of longer group sessions, as well as occasional articles and other resources from around the web

Past Taking the Escalator Forum Compilations:

FORUM ENTRIES - (Most recent/newest on top)


10/2/22 - What the?????? 


 For this simple but fun and interesting icebreaker, everyone in the group should share an experience where something unusual happened (or you thought something unusual was happening due to a misunderstanding)

 and you just sat there and your mind said:

WHAT THE.....??????


9/26/22 - Recognizing Greatness 


To be called "Great" is such a distinguished accomplishment. For this group icebreaker on greatness discuss these two questions as a group:


1 - Who would you consider "great" in the world today or in history and why?


2 - What is one thing you can say that you are "great" at?

(If you cannot think of anything, then talk about something you would like to be great at)


9/18/22 - The Vast Expanse 


Icebreaker question: When you stare into a vast expanse like the night sky filled with stars or the ocean, what are some of the thoughts that come into your mind during those deep moments?


9/10/22 - History's Mystery


Icebreaker Question for Discussion:

  • Many mysterious, unknown and unsolved things have happened throughout the years in both past and recent history. Just about everyone has at least one historical event that interests them. If you could know the real truth for any one event at any point in time, what would you want to know about and why?


9/4/22 -Making Life Easier on Myself


Directions: Discuss the following three points as a group icebreaker

  • I make my life harder on myself when....
  • I make my life easier when....
  • How can I do LESS to unnecessarily make my life harder and MORE to make my life easier on myself?


8/27/22 - What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.


For this icebreaker everyone share a story about a life experience 

that was difficult at the time but you are now better for it.


Follow up question:

How can you use these experiences to look at future challenges with a more positive viewpoint? 


8/20/22 - Museum of Me


For this icebreaker exercise, go around the group and discuss this thought provoking imaginary scenario:


Imagine that a museum exhibit was going to be made all about YOU. What are some things from your life that would be included in the exhibit?


8/13/22 - Unity

  • Unity - the state of being united or joined as a whole.

As an icebreaker discussion: Everyone in the group should give their thoughts on this scenario: If you could unite the world to agree to work together on one goal or project, what would you choose and why?


Follow up question: What could this group achieve if everyone worked together in unity?


8/6/22 - Listen and Learn


This is just a brief group discussion module focused on listening. Discuss the following thoughts as a group:

  • A time when I wish I would have listened was….
  • A time when I wish I didn’t listen was…
  • Today I want to tune out conversations about….
  • Today, I want to listen and hear more about….


7/31/22 - "Learn to Love it"


Life can be interesting as with time and some persistence we can learn to like or even love things that we once had no interest in or perhaps even hated. For this icebreaker, everyone in the group is invited to share things they've learned to love. Some potential topics - FOOD, HOBBIES, MUSIC, EXPERIENCES, ENTERTAINMENT


7/24/22 - "Warning Label"


We all know about warning labels on things like medication which may have a warning label that says "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking" or something like that. For this icebreaker, discuss some fictional "warning labels" for each of these situation


  • What would be the warning label outside of the front door of your parents house?
  • What warning label would be appropriate for you when you first wake up in the morning?
  • What warning label should be displayed when you are angry?
  • What warning label should have come with your current (or most recent) relationship partner?
  • Come up with your own ideas if time....



7/18/22 - Never?


Try to come up with examples to discuss for the following two thoughts about the idea of "never"


1. I thought it would never happen, but it did


2. I often feared it would happen but it never did


3. If I can help it, one thing I will never do again is....


4. I never thought that...(Discuss an unexpected GOOD thing that has happened to you



7/12/22 - Positive Predictions


To start group today first do this simple exercise. Everyone write down a "Positive Prediction" about something that will happen in the session today. Try to be specific. 

Positive predictions only (No insults or hurtful ideas such as: "So and so is going to cry in group today" or "So and so used again") - Instead try to predict something encouraging, helpful or interesting in a constructive way


7/7/22 - "Technology and Health"


This is a brief icebreaker or discussion focused on the role technology plays in mental health. Discuss the following points as a group, keeping in mind that it is important to respect others views and opinions rather than argue.


How can technology trigger problems with people's mental health?


How can technology be used in a positive way to improve mental health?


How are you individually using technology to help improve yourself rather than allow it to cause problems or stress in your life?



7/3/22 - "Gratefully Stable"


It can be beneficial to take time to reflect on things in life that are going well. We can take some of these subtle things for granted if we don't take the time to notice them. For this brief exercise, as a group, discuss the following two points:


  • What are three things in your life right now that are at least at a "stable" point in your life (No real problems to speak of at the moment in these life areas)


  • What have you been doing to increase stability in your life? (What is working for you?)



6/29/22 - Icebreaker - "Take a Brief Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone"


For this group icebreaker, everyone in the group is asked to accept the challenge to step outside of their comfort zone, even if its just a little. Everyone in the group should think for a minute or two how they can do this. Here are some suggestions. When everyone is ready, go around the room letting everyone in the group take a turn.


Suggestions:


> Tell the group a story about yourself that you have not told before, perhaps something that is a little surprising about you if you can


> Show the group something from your life that opens up your world a little more to the rest of the group. Maybe you have a skill or talent you could briefly demonstrate or a picture of something interesting from your life on your phone or a news story on the internet or social media


6/23/22 - Picture Discussion: "Leap of Faith"


As a group discuss the following picture and discuss what it means to you personally. How can you specifically apply this in your own life in a positive way?

6/18/22 - Discussion Module: "Family Functioning"


This is a brief group assessment and discussion on current family functioning. Go around the group and discuss how everyone is doing with regard to the following relationships in their life today. 


  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Extended Family

What knowledge, wisdom and skills have you developed for successfully managing family relationships? What works for you?



6/12/22 - "Morning Warrior" - Discussion Topic


Background: Something got you up and going this morning. It is great that you made it to this group. This is a brief discussion on getting motivated to face each day. Discuss the following questions as a group:


  • What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?
  • When you are struggling in the morning, how do you pull through?
  • What, if anything, do you do the night before to make the following morning easier?
  • Based on what you have heard in this group so far, what else can you do to increase your motivation to successfully get going in the morning?


6/6/22 - Interesting Discussion Topic - "Worst Job, Best Job, Dream Job"


Discuss the following questions as a group, one by one:


1. What was the WORST job you ever had and why?


2. What was the BEST job you ever had and why?


3. What would you consider to be your DREAM JOB, why?



6/1/22 - Icebreaker: "The Old Soul in Me"


Discussion: Even if you are not old (or even if you are) what is one thing that you do that is often associated with older people?


Examples


  • "I'm in my 20's but I love Bird Watching and Candle Making"
  • "I'm one of those people who wear a jacket outside even when its warm out, just like my grandparents"
  • "I still watch a lot of black and white movies"
  • "I enjoy writing in cursive"
  • "I wear slippers in the house 24/7"


What "old-soul" habits or hobbies do you have?



5/26/22 - Brief Outline for Discussing Violence in the Media


These are some basic questions for guiding group discussion when something tragic happens in the news:


Pick the event you will be discussing


1. What are your THOUGHTS about what happened?

  • RULES this part: 1) Keep it brief so everyone has time to share - 2) Keep it PERSONAL not POLITICAL 

2. What are your FEELINGS about what happened?

  • Use APPROPRIATE FEELING WORDS - Counselor may want to provide feeling chart

3. When you are not in this group, if you need to process this further: Where can you get more SUPPORT?

  • Counselor may want to prepare some local resources

4. Even when troubling things happen in the news we need to keep moving forward in our own lives. What skills will you use to COPE?

  • It may be helpful at this point to transfer into a group about COPING SKILLS



5/20/22 - Discussion: "I Can Relate"


Directions - This is a basic topic to generate some potentially interesting group discussion. Go around the group and have group members share about a person (real - dead or alive - or fictional) whom they can relate to and why. Examples provided to get group started


  • "I can relate to the main character from the movie Shawshank Redemption because I know what its like to patiently and persistently work towards a goal then to finally succeed"


  • "I can relate to Keanu Reeves because he is so down to earth and just wants to be a good person and not act like an entitled jerk like so many other people in the world do"


Discuss your own ideas


5/14/22 - Icebreaker: "Used to it!"


Its strange in life the things we can get accustomed too if we are exposed to a situation long enough. As an icebreaker, everyone in group is encouraged to share some things that they have gotten used to in life even if they were difficult at first. Some examples are provided to help get the group started:

  • "When I was growing up I absolutely hated getting up early but now with practice I have gotten used to being up every day at 5:30am even on weekends!"
  • "Since I have been more health conscious I have become accustomed to eating vegetables, which I used to hate"
  • "I used to go to concerts and get so high and drunk I would forget most what even happened, but I have since really learned to love and appreciate the show and the music with a sober and clear mind"

When done, as a group discuss this final question:


> What other positive and healthy things in life do you think that you could get accustomed too 

if you gave them enough time and practice?




5/9/22 - Fun Icebreaker: "What's the First Thing You'd Do If...."


Take turns answering the following amusing "what if" scenarios by completing the sentence:


What's the first thing you'd do if....

  • A billionaire handed you a credit card and said go out and buy anything you want
  • The president called you and said you can do anything you want today and you will be legally pardoned
  • You woke up with the opportunity to trade lives with one person in the world for the next 24 hours
  • If you got hired for your dream job
  • You could snap your fingers and change one thing for good


5/3/22 - Discussion: "Eye Openers"


There are moments in life that serve as "eye openers" in the sense that they suddenly get us to view the world in a completely different way. These can be big, life changing moments at times but at other times these unique experiences pop up in strange and unexpected ways. Consider some examples below:


" I always aced my way through school my whole life until graduation, then the first time I went to college and got a bad grade because the work was just too hard for me, it was like a smack in the face that I could no longer breeze by without trying too hard any more"


"For the first half of my life I thought that people who got addicted were weak until one day in my 50's I had surgery and got hooked on pain pills and now I see the real struggle involved"


"I dumped or cheated on everyone I dated for years until one day I got really attached to someone who ended up suddenly dumping me for someone else and it crushed me and I have a new perspective on how I treated other people in my past"


AS A GROUP:  Share some of your own "Eye Opener" moments



4/27/22 - Group Discussion: "Gratitude Moment: I Thought I Would Never But I Did!"


For this brief group exercise, everyone in the group should share at least one positive life achievement that has exceeded past expectations. This would be something that you may have never imagined you would do, but you have now done (Positive answers only)


  • Example - "I never ever thought I would speak in front of a crowd but now I have told my story to a room of dozens of people"


When everyone has shared, an additional follow up question is:


What is one more thing that you want to achieve in your future that exceeds your past expectations?


  • Example - "One day I want to publish my own original book" 



​4/21/22 - Icebreaker – “Against the Grain”


As you know, to "go against the grain" means to choose a path that does not go with the flow of society. This icebreaker is about innocent* ways that we all go against the grain in our own unique way


*The only rule is to keep discussion innocent (harmless) and light. This is not an opportunity to brag about behaviors that would be considered dangerous, aggressive illegal or “anti-social


Examples:

  • “I put ketchup on my hot dogs and my steak even though most of society frowns upon that”

  • “Most people work out in the morning but I don’t start my exercise routine until about 10:00 at night"

Share and discuss your own unique ways of going against the grain