Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
A list of recommended reads, including workbooks and textbooks, for mental health professionals
A list of recommended reads, including workbooks and textbooks, for mental health professionals
Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
A resource guide for clinicians who facilitate counseling groups
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
Throughout my counseling career, group therapy has been a focal part of what I do. I’ve worked mainly in residential settings where groups take place several times a day.
Initially, group counseling terrified me. (What if I can’t “control” the group? What if a member challenges me? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if everyone gets up and leaves? – that actually happened, once – and on and on. What made group therapy especially intimidating was that if I “messed up,” an entire group of people [as opposed to one person] would witness my failure.)
I got over it, of course. Group facilitation wasn’t always comfortable and I made many (many!) mistakes, but I grew. I realized it’s okay to be both counselor and human; at times, humans say dumb stuff, hurt each other’s feelings, and don’t know the answer. By letting go of the need to be perfect, I became more effective. Group facilitation is now one of my favorite parts of the job.
This resource guide provides practical information and tools for group therapy for mental health practitioners.
Group therapy is an evidence-based treatment for substance use and mental disorders. An effective group calls for a skilled clinician to meet treatment standards. Professional associations, such as the American Group Psychotherapy Association, develop best practice guidelines based on scientific data and clinical research.
SAMHSA promotes research-based protocols and has published several group therapy guides for best practice, including TIP 41: Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy – Quick Guide for Clinicians, and Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy Inservice Training (a training manual), in addition to group workbooks/facilitator guides for anger management, stimulant use disorder, and serious mental illness.
Group Exercises for Addiction Counseling (2012) by Dr. Geri Miller
The book itself is small in size but packed with helpful information and creative ideas. As a new counselor lacking in clinical skills, I supplemented with activities to engage the clients. Group Exercises for Addiction Counseling never failed me.
250 Brief, Creative & Practical Art Therapy Techniques: A Guide for Clinicians and Clients (2019) by Susan I. Buchalter
A more recent discovery of mine. This guide provides detailed instructions accompanied by thought-provoking discussion questions for each intervention. I was impressed with both the quality and originality; an instant upgrade to “house-tree-person.”
You need only Google “icebreakers” and you’ll have a million to choose from. I’m not listing many, but they’re ones clients seem to enjoy the most.
Activity 1: My most highly recommended icebreaker activity involves passing out blank slips of paper to each group member and instructing them to write a “fun fact” about themselves, something no one else in the group would know. I provide them with examples (i.e. “I once had a pet lamb named Bluebell” or “I won a hotdog eating contest when I was 11 and then threw up all over the judges’ shoes”). Depending on the crowd, you may want to tell clients not to write anything they wouldn’t want their peers to know. (I adopted this guideline after a client wrote about “sharting” himself.) Once everyone has written something, have them fold their papers and place in a container of some sort (a gift box, paper bag, plastic bowl, etc.) Group members take turns passing around the container (one-at-a-time) and picking a slip to read aloud. They must then guess who wrote it. (I give three guesses; after that, I turn it over to the group.)
Activity 2: A similar but more structured activity is to write out questions ahead of time and have clients take turns drawing and answering the questions. Questions can be silly, thought-provoking, or intending to illicit a strong emotional response (depending on the audience and goals for the group).
Activity 3: “People Search” involves a list of traits, feats, talents, or experiences. Each client receives the list and is given x amount of time to find someone in the group who is a match; that individual will then sign off. The first person to have their list completely signed sits down; they win. I typically let clients continue to collect signatures until two additional people sit down. (Prizes optional, but always appreciated.) During the debriefing, it’s fun to learn more (and thereby increase understanding and compassion).
Activity 4: “First Impressions” works best with group members who don’t know each other well. It’s important for group members to know each other’s names (or wear name tags). Each group member has a sheet of paper with various “impressions” (i.e. judgments/stereotypes). For example, items on the list might be “Looks like an addict” and “Looks intelligent.” Clients write other group members’ names for each impression. In addition to enhancing a sense of community, this activity provides an avenue for discussing harmful stereotypes and stigma.
Activity 5: Affirmations groups can be powerful, generating unity and kindness. The effect seems to be more pronounced in gender-specific groups. There are a variety of ways to facilitate an affirmations group, ranging from each person providing an affirmation to the client on their right to individuals sharing a self-affirmation with the group to creating a self-affirmation painting. Another idea is to give each client a sheet of paper. (Consider using quality, brightly-colored paper/posterboard and providing markers, gel pens, etc.) Clients write their name on it and then all the papers are passed around so each group member has the opportunity to write on everyone else’s sheet. Once their original paper is returned to them, they can read and share with the group. This can lead to a powerful discussion about image, reputation, feeling fake, etc. (Plus, clients get to keep the papers!)
Activity 6: “Most Likely to Relapse/Least Likely to Relapse” works best with a well-formed group and may require extra staff support. It’s good for larger groups and can be highly effective in a therapeutic community. Clients receive blank pieces of paper and are tasked to write the names of who they think is most likely and least likely to relapse. After writing their own name on the sheet, they turn it in to staff (effectively allowing staff to maintain a safe and productive environment). Staff then read each sheet aloud (without naming who wrote it). If they choose, clients can share what they wrote and provide additional feedback. (Most do.) Clients selected as “most likely” (in either category) have the opportunity to process with other group members and staff.
Access group therapy worksheets and handouts here.
In need of fresh material? It can be easy to fall into a rut, especially if you’re burnout or working with a particularly challenging group. The following three PDF downloads are lists of ideas for group topics. I also included two links to sites with helpful suggestions.
As a group facilitator, consider incorporating some sort of experiential activity, quiz, handout, game, etc. into every session. For example, start with a check-in, review a handout, facilitate a discussion, take a 5-minute bathroom break, facilitate a role-play, and then close the group by summarizing and providing clients with the opportunity to share what they learned. If that’s not feasible, provide coffee or snacks; sitting for 45 minutes is difficult for some, and 90 minutes can be unbearable.
Another idea is to have a “fun” or “free” group in the curriculum. Ideas include going bowling, having a potluck, Starbucks run, game group (i.e. Catchphrase, Pictionary, etc.), escape room, nature walk, etc.
Clients are not always willing therapy participants; some are court-ordered to attend or there to have privileges restored. Some attendees may be there “voluntarily,” but only to save their marriage or keep a job, not believing they need help. In residential treatment, clients attend mandatory groups as part of the daily schedule — participate or you’re out.
Even when attendance is truly voluntary, a group member may be in a bad space. Maybe they’re stressed about the rent or just got into a fight with their significant other. Or what if the AC is broken and the group room is 80 degrees? What if a client has unpleasant body odor or bad breath or an annoying cough?
Multiple factors combine and it’s suddenly a sh**show. (I’ll never forget the client who climbed onto a chair to “rally the troops” against my tyranny.) Anticipating challenges is the first step to effectively preventing and managing them.
Click here for an excellent article from Counseling Today that addresses the concept of client resistance.
Always keep in mind a client’s stage of change, their internal experiences (i.e. hearing voices, social anxiety, paranoia, physical pain, etc.), external circumstances (i.e. recent medication change, loss of housing, conflict with roommates, etc.), and history of trauma. What looks like resistance may be something else entirely.
Marketers use psychological tactics to influence, convince, and even deceive consumers. This article explores some of the lesser-know marketing traps and how you can avoid them.
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
I’m sure it’s no surprise when you Google “bathing suits,” and shortly thereafter, swimwear ads litter your Facebook feed. Wikipedia defines marketing as “the business process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customers’ needs and wants.”
There’s an entire branch of research dedicated to understanding consumer behavior via psychological, technological, and economical principles. However, you may be less aware of marketing tactics intended to foster false trust or play on subconscious fears.
Here’s a real life example: Recently, I used DoorDash to order breakfast from Silver Diner. I was shocked when the total came to nearly $70. Luckily, my husband was too; he suggested going directly through the restaurant. I selected the equivalent menu items and it was $30 cheaper!! DoorDash not only raised entrée prices, but charged additional fees on top of the delivery fee and tip. To think, I wouldn’t have compared prices had my husband not been (duly) outraged; I almost fell victim to “brand trust.”
Consider the companies you trust. Why don’t you question their products, services, prices, etc.? Are you brand-washed?
To avoid misleading marketing traps, always compare prices, read reviews from verified buyers, avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry, steer clear of end-of-aisles deals, buy off-season, etc.
This article explores a few lesser-known ways marketers influence consumers by using psychological principles, and how to avoid them. When you, the consumer, know the science behind advertising strategies, you’re better equipped to make educated decisions (and will avoid feeling betrayed by a food delivery app!)
Marketers use health-related buzzwords like “gluten-free” or “organic” to lure buyers with an impression of being nutritious. In one study, consumers viewed items stamped with healthy-sounding catchphrases as healthier than non-stamped foods.
Real life example: Years ago, I accompanied a friend to the grocery store. In the dairy section, she grabbed a jug of whole milk. I knew she wanted to lose weight, so I suggested skim. Dubious, she expressed concern because it wasn’t “vitamin D-rich.” Had she consulted the nutrition facts instead of scanning labels, she would know whole and skim have equal amounts of the vitamin.
Avoid this trap by reading nutrition facts and ingredients before buying. (Sure, those Fruit Loops are made with whole grain, but the first ingredient is sugar!)
Researchers found that consumers’ spending increased as the tempo of the music quickened. In addition to spending more, shoppers purchased additional items (instead of opting for fewer products at higher prices). Interestingly, this effect was only observable when the store was crowded.
Remain aware of your environment when shopping and if possible, go when crowds are thin (or at least wear ear buds).
(Um, what? I thought the occasional 7-Eleven purchase of Deer Park was a combination of laziness and convenience on my part, not an ominous and looming fear of my fragile mortality.)
In 2018, researchers asserted that “most bottled-water advertising campaigns target a deep psychological vulnerability in humans, compelling them to buy and consume particular products. Bottled water ads specifically trigger our most subconscious fear [of death].” It was also suggested that bottled water symbolizes something safe and pure – compelling when you want to avoid health risks.
According to the study, bottled water appeals most to people who measure their personal value by their physical appearance, fitness levels, material and financial wealth, class, and status.
Whether or not this study withstands replication, consider a filter!
Save your shopping for poorer weather conditions. Researchers found that consumers place a higher value on associated products respective to the weather.
The rationale: It’s easier for someone to visualize the comfort of a fluffy beach towel or the shade of an umbrella when it’s hot and bright (compared to when it’s pouring rain), thereby increasing the desire to make a purchase. Interestingly, this seems to hold true for sunny or snowy conditions, but not rainy weather. It was speculated that rain gear is typically purchased to avoid unpleasant conditions, not to increase enjoyment.
Be wary of the weather when shopping for that beach trip or ski vacation in the mountains; you may end up spending more than intended.
If you’re not one who’s influenced by the “logical persuasion” of advertisements, you may still be subconsciously enticed by the “non-rational influence.” Different kinds of advertisements evoke different types of brain activity.
Even the wisest consumer can be “seduced.” Marketers both overtly and subtly influence our buying behaviors. Your brain will unavoidably betray you at times; you can either accept this or become a hermit. (You may also consider shopping where there are lenient return policies, but be wary of policies that seem too lenient, as this may be a ploy.)
A 2011 study indicated that relaxed consumers perceived items at a higher value when compared to their less-relaxed (although not stressed) counterparts.
If you’re a bargain-hunter, stay alert to how you’re feeling before entering a store or searching on Amazon; otherwise, you may think you’re getting a great deal when you’re not. (And if you use social media, know that ads may have more sway when you’re sleepy.)
In the midst of misleading marketing tactics and #fakenews, stick with the facts and practice emotional intelligence; don’t be swayed.
A list of common questions and phrases used in therapy – includes a free PDF printable version of this resource
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
Therapists have their own unique (and purposeful) language. We may use jargon when talking to others in the field, but with our clients (and most likely, with other significant people in our lives), we are focused and thoughtful.
Therapy is a tool for self-discovery; as therapists, it’s important to know how to effectively employ this tool. (For example, a hammer, while a useful tool, would not be effective if someone used the handle to pound a nail instead of the head.) What we say and how we say it is powerful: open-ended questions, reflections, clarifications, etc.
The following is a list of questions/phrases I find myself using in individual therapy and group sessions to explore, empathize, empower, and motivate change, including a few versions of the “miracle question” (a question used in therapy that asks the client to imagine what their life would look like if, miraculously, all of their problems disappeared and everything was perfect).
Click below to access a printable PDF version of this list.
1. How are you feeling?
2. How does/did that make you feel?
3. What would happen if you gave yourself permission to feel your emotions?
4. What was that experience like for you?
5. When did you first notice that…
6. When did you first recognize that…
7. What are your current internal experiences and reactions?
8. I’m noticing that…
9. What I’m hearing is…
10. It sounds like…
11. I wonder if…
12. It makes a lot of sense hearing it from your perspective… and, I wonder what would happen if…
13. May I share some feedback with you?
14. Are you open to a suggestion?
15. Would you like to hear a different perspective?
16. May I share my observations?
17. Would you like to know more about [mental health topic]?
18. Some research indicates that __________, but other studies have found that __________.
19. Tell more about that.
20. Tell me what that was like for you.
21. Will you say more about that?
22. Can you speak to…
23. I’m not sure I understand.
24. Help me to understand.
25. Correct me if I’m wrong, but…
26. What am I missing? Something doesn’t quite match up…
27. Is there anything else I need to know?
28. Did I hear you correctly when you said…
29. May I pause you for a minute?
30. Can we return to what you said earlier about…
31. It looks like you shut down when I said __________. Can we talk about it?
32. You seem distracted today. Do you want to talk about something else?
33. Do you want to take a break from this topic?
34. What do you think __________ would say if they were here in this room with us?
35. If it was __________ in this situation, what advice would you give them?
36. What does __________ look like to you?
37. What does __________ mean to you?
38. What message did you hear when they said…
39. How would your life be different if you didn’t have…
40. Was there anything you could have done differently?
41. It sounds like you were doing the best you could with what you had at the time.
42. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have reacted if in your shoes.
43. You’re the expert on you.
44. I wish I had the answer to that.
45. That’s a really good question. What do you think?
46. On the one hand __________, but on the other…
47. You say __________, but your actions…
48. I’m concerned that…
49. I can only imagine how __________ that was for you.
50. Can we explore this more?
(Updated 5/20/20) A list of movies about mental health and substance abuse – includes PDF printable discussion questions
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
The following is a list of films that are appropriate to show in treatment settings. This post includes movie summaries and downloadable PDF handouts with questions for discussion. Please note that some of the films on this list are graphic and may not be appropriate for children or adolescents.
Hint: The handouts contain spoilers; do not provide until after the movie ends.
103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes), R-rating for language and drug use
Summary: Julia Roberts plays a mother, Holly, whose 19-year old son, Ben, surprises her by returning home for Christmas. Ben is newly in recovery; his addiction has placed a tremendous strain on the family in the past. Ben’s younger siblings are happy to see him, but Holly, fearing that he is not ready, is apprehensive. That evening, the family attends church. When they return, they find their home burglarized and the dog missing. Ben blames himself, believing someone from his past took the dog to get his attention; he leaves to look for the dog. Holly goes with him, but they’re later separated, and Holly attempts to track Ben. Eventually, she ends up at an abandoned barn where she finds her son on the floor, unresponsive. The movie ends with her administering Narcan to Ben.
127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes), R-rating for strong language and content relating to drugs, sexuality, and suicide
Summary: Winona Ryder plays Susanna, a young woman with borderline personality disorder, who is sent to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt in the late 1960s. She befriends Lisa (Angelia Jolie), who carries a diagnosis of sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder). Initially, Susanna is in denial about her mental condition and is not open to treatment. However, she reaches a turning point after a tragedy.
123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes), PG-13 rating for mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language, and brief violence
Summary: Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) starts a chain reaction of goodness for a social studies project with a plan to change the world for the better. In this film, Trevor is a high school student whose mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt), struggles with alcoholism and whose father is abusive. He rises above unfortunate circumstances with the kindhearted idea to do a good deed, but instead of requesting payback, asking the receiver to “pay it forward” to at least three people – and on and on. While the movie has a bittersweet end, the message is uplifting and powerful.
103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes), PG-13 rating
Summary: Charlie is an unpopular high school freshman, a “wallflower,” who is befriended by two seniors, Patrick and Sam (Emma Watson). The movie is about their friendship and Charlie’s personal struggles with the recent suicide of his friend and his own mental illness. Throughout the film, Charlie has flashbacks of his aunt, who died in a car accident when he was 7. It’s eventually revealed that Charlie’s aunt molested him; a sexual encounter with Sam triggers Charlie’s repressed memories. Charlie has a mental breakdown.
113 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes), R-rating for language and brief sexuality
Summary: Anne Hathaway plays Kym, a troubled young woman, who returns from rehab to her family home for her sister’s wedding. The film portrays how Kym’s addiction has placed strain on the family.
126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes), R-rating for language
Summary: Meg Ryan plays Alice, a woman with an alcohol use disorder. The film is about how Alice’s addiction impacts her family and how she recovers.
Other great resources for using clinical films as therapeutic interventions include the book Movies & Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathy, 4th ed. (by Danny Wedding and Ryan M. Niemiec) and the site Teach With Movies.
(Updated 5/4/20) A list of sites with free printable resources for mental health clinicians and consumers
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
If you’re a counselor or therapist, you’re probably familiar with Therapist Aid, one of the most well-known sites providing free printable worksheets. PsychPoint and Get Self Help UK are also great resources for cost-free handouts, tools, etc. that can be used with clients or for self-help.
When I started blogging, I realized just how much the Internet has to offer when it comes to FREE! That being said, I’ve learned the term free is often misleading. There are gimmicky sites that require you to join an email list in order to receive a free e-book, PDF printables, etc.; I don’t consider that free since you’re making an exchange. I also dislike and generally avoid sites that bombard with ads. A third “free-resource” site that’s deceiving is the site with no gimmicks or ads, but turns out to be nothing more than a ploy to get you to buy something.
For this post, I avoided misleading sites and instead focused on government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits. I found some sites that offered a variety of broad-topic PDF resources and others that had fewer, but provided specialized tools. See below for links to over 50 sites with free therapy worksheets and handouts for both clinicians and consumers.
(Click here for free worksheets, handouts, and guides posted on this site.)
Please check back frequently; I update regularly.
91 Free Counseling Handouts | Handouts on self-esteem, emotions, recovery, stress, and more
A Change in Thinking: Self-Help Library | A large collection of worksheets and handouts on communication, relationships, depression, and more
A Good Way to Think: Resources | Worksheets and handouts on happiness, well-being, values, etc.
Articles by Dr. Paul David | Clinical handouts on depression, relationships, substance use disorders, family issues, etc.
ASI-MV Worksheets & Handouts | Addiction and recovery handouts
Belmont Wellness: Psychoeducational Handouts, Quizzes, and Group Activities | Printable handouts on assertiveness, emotional wellness, stress management, and more
Black Dog Institute: Clinical Resources | Download fact sheets, handouts, mood trackers, and more on a variety of mental health topics
Brene Brown: Downloads and Guides | Resources for work, parenting, the classroom, and daily life
Bryan Konik | Therapist & Social Worker: Free Therapy Worksheets | A collection of worksheets on stress management, anxiety, relationships, goal setting, and trauma
Cairn Center: Resources | A modest collection of printable assessments, handouts, and worksheets on DBT, anxiety, depression, etc.
Client Worksheets from Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders (Treatment Improvement Protocols Services) | 44 client worksheets on addiction and recovery
Cornell Health: Fact Sheet Library | A variety of handouts and tracking sheet on various health topics; only a few relate to mental health and addiction
Daniel J. Fox, Ph.D.: Forms, Presentation Slides, and Worksheets | Topics include anger, emotions, borderline personality disorder, etc.
DOWNLOADS from Get Self Help | Free therapy worksheets and handouts on a variety of topics
Dr. Danny Gagnon, Ph.D., Montreal Psychologist: Self-Help Toolkits | Articles and handouts on worry, depression, assertiveness, etc.
EchoHawk Counseling: Materials and Resources | Articles, worksheets, and handouts on a variety of topics (boundaries, emotions, grief, stress, trauma, etc.)
Eddin’s Counseling Group: Worksheets | A short list of free worksheets and handouts
Faith Harper: Worksheets and Printables | A small collection of therapy worksheets and handouts, including a gratitude journal
Forward Ethos: Guide Sheets | Worksheets on mindfulness, anxiety, self-care, intimacy, relationships, and more
Free Stuff for Consumers and Professionals | A short list of downloads (Source: Jonathan S. Abramowitz, Ph.D.)
InFocus Resources | Family handouts on addiction
Lynn Martin | A short list of client handouts, including questionnaires
Mark R. Young, LMSW, LCSW (Resolving Concerns): Links & Forms | Links to factsheets, worksheets, assessments, etc.
Mental Health CE | Course content handouts on a variety of mental health topics
Oxford Clinical Psychology: Forms and Worksheets | A large collection of therapy worksheets based on evidence-based practices
Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.: Addiction Recovery Worksheets | A modest collection of handouts/worksheets for addiction and recovery
Self-Help Reading Materials | Links to handouts on self-help topics (Source: Truman State University)
Self-Help Tools from Mental Health America | Links to assessments, worksheets, handouts, and more
Sleep and Depression Laboratory: Resources | A small collection of worksheets related to sleep, worry, and depression
SMART Recovery Toolbox | Addiction and recovery resources
The Stages of Change | A 7-page PDF packet (Source: Virginia Tech Continuing and Professional Education)
Step Preparation Worksheets | (Source: treatmentguide4u.com)
Substance Abuse | A 13-page PDF packet
Taking The Escalator: Therapy Tools | Handouts on addiction and recovery
Therapist Aid | Free therapy worksheets
Therapy Worksheets | A therapy blog with links to free worksheets on various mental health topics
Tools for Coping Series | A large collection of handouts on coping skills
Worksheets from A Recovery Story (Blog) | A small collection of addiction and recovery worksheets
Alphabet of Stress Management and Coping Skills | Coping skills for every letter of the alphabet
Anxiety 101 | An 11-page PDF packet (Source: Michigan Medicine | University of Michigan)
Anxiety Canada: Free Downloadable PDF Resources | Anxiety worksheets for parents and self-help
Behavioral Activation for Depression | A 35-page packet
Creating Your Personal Stress Management Plan | A 10-page packet
Dr. Chloe: Worksheets for Anxiety Management | A small collection of worksheets and handouts
Panic Attack Worksheets (Inner Health Studio) | A 9-page PDF packet
Relaxation | A 15-page packet on relaxation skills for anxiety
Stress Management (Inner Health Studio) | A 5-page packet on stress management
UMASS Medical School Department of Psychiatry: Stress Management – Patient Handouts | A collection of handouts on stress management. Some of the other sections, including “General Health and Wellness” and “Nutrition” have links to handouts as well
Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress: Therapist Resources | More than just worksheets: client handouts, assessments, info sheets, toolkits, training resources, links, etc.
Child and Family Studies: Sex in the Family | An 8-page packet on shame and guilt in relation to child sexual abuse
Common Reactions to Trauma | A 1-page PDF handout
Detaching From Emotional Pain (Grounding) | A 12-page PDF packet (Source: Sunspire Health)
Grounding Exercises | A 2-page PDF handout
Grounding Techniques | A 1-page PDF handout from JMU Counseling Center
Grounding Techniques | A 2-page PDF handout
Healing Private Wounds Booklets | Religious handouts on healing from sexual abuse
Seeking Safety Resources | Printable worksheets on PTSD, substance abuse, and healthy relationships
Selected Handouts and Worksheets from: Mueser, K. T., Rosenberg, S. D., & Rosenberg, H. J. (2009). Treatment of Postraumatic Stress Disorder in Special Populations: A Cognitive Restructuring Program | A 13-page PDF packet
Trauma Research and Treatment: Trauma Toolkit A small collection of trauma handouts
Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind and Body | A 12-page PDF packet (Source: Dan Metevier, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist)
Wisconsin Hawthorn Project: Handouts & Worksheets | Handouts in English and Spanish
Early Psychosis Intervention: Client Worksheets | Scroll down to the “Client Worksheets” section for links. Use with clients who are experiencing psychosis
Goal-Setting Worksheet for Patients with Schizophrenia | A 3-page PDF
List of 60 Coping Strategies for Hallucinations | A 2-page PDF
Treatment for Schizophrenia Worksheet Pack | A 6-page PDF packet
ACT Mindfully: Worksheets, Book Chapters & ACT Made Simple | ACT worksheets and other free resources
Cognitive Therapy Skills | A 33-page packet
Carolina Integrative Psychotherapy | A small collection of DBT worksheets and handouts
Clinician Worksheets and Handouts: Clinician Treatment Tools | A variety of CBT, DBT, etc. therapy worksheets
CPT Web Resources | A short list of worksheets and handouts
DBT Peer Connections: DBT Handouts and Worksheets | DBT resources
DBT Self-Help | Printable lessons and diary cards
Dr. John Forsyth: Free Resources | Download two free packets of worksheets (ACT and mindfulness)
Living CBT: Free Self-Help | 20+ CBT worksheets
Lozier & Associates: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Printables – DBT Worksheets and DBT Handouts | A small collection of DBT handouts and worksheets
Printable Versions of CPT/CBT Worksheets | English and Spanish worksheets (Source: The F.A.S.T. Lab at Stanford Medicine)
Veronica Walsh’s CBT Blog: Free Downloadable Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Worksheets/Handouts | Print/use these worksheets only with blog author’s permission
Activities for Grieving Children | A 7-page PDF
Bereavement Handouts (Hospice & Palliative Care) | A small collection of handouts
The Center for Complicated Grief: Handouts | Assessments, handouts, and guides
A Child’s Understanding of Death | An 11-page packet
Handouts to Download and Print: One Legacy | Handouts on grief and loss
Loss, Grief, and Bereavement | A 35-page PDF packet
Printable Grief and Loss Resources | A fairly extensive collection of printable handouts on grief and loss
Anger Inventory | A 7-page PDF packet
Anger Management | A 13-page PDF packet
Anger Management Techniques | A 4-page PDF
Dealing with Anger (Inner Health Studio) | A 7-page PDF packet
Free Anger Management Worksheets: Letting Go of Anger | A small collection of worksheets for anger management
Getting to Know Your Anger | A 42-page PDF packet
Love To Know: Free Anger Worksheets | 7 downloadable anger management worksheets
Confidence Activities | A 25-page PDF packet
Improving Self-Esteem: Healthy Self-Esteem | A 10-page PDF packet
Self-Esteem Activities | A modest collection of handouts/activities for self-esteem
Self-Esteem Experts: Self-Esteem Activities | Printable handouts on self-esteem
Core Values and Essential Intentions Worksheet | A 2-page PDF worksheet
Core Values Clarification Exercise | A 4-page PDF worksheet
Core Values Worksheet | A 4-page PDF worksheet
Life Values Inventory | A 5-page printable PDF (Source: Brown, Duane and R. Kelly Crace, (1996). Publisher: Life Values Resources, email@example.com)
Personal Values Card Sort | A 9-page printable PDF (Source: W.R. Miller, J. C’de Baca, and D.B.Matthews, P.L., Wilbourne, University of New Mexico, 2001)
Values | A 2-page PDF worksheet
Values and Goals Worksheet | A 1-page PDF worksheet
Values Assessment Worksheet | A 2-page PDF worksheet
Values Exercise | A 2-page PDF worksheet
Values Identification Worksheet | A 6-page PDF worksheet (Source: Synergy Institute Online)
Values Inventory Worksheet | A 2-page PDF worksheet
What Are My Values? | A 4-page PDF worksheet from stephaniefrank.com
A Child’s Understanding of Death | An 11-page packet
A Collection of Anger Management/Impulse Control Activities & Lesson Plans (PreK-3rd Grade) | A 64-page PDF packet
Activities for Grieving Children | A 7-page PDF
Cope-Cake: Coping Skills Worksheets and Game | A 30-page packet for young children/students
Crossroads Counseling Center: Resources | Handouts on depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. in children
Curriculum Materials from Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center | Links to handouts
The Helpful Counselor: 10 Awesome Behavior Management Resources | Worksheets to use with children
Myle Marks: Free Downloads | Worksheets for children
Prevention Dimensions: Lesson Plans | Downloadable PDF handouts for children from kindergarten to sixth grade (Source: Utah Education Network)
Printable Worksheets | Worksheets for children on physical activity, substance abuse, nutrition, and more (Source: BJC School Outreach and Youth Development)
Social Emotional Activities Workbook | A 74-page PDF packet
Social Skills Worksheets | A packet of worksheets to use with children/youth
Stress Reduction Activities for Students | Link to a 20-page packet (PDF)
Change To Chill | Worksheets and handouts for reducing stress in teens and young adults
Emotional Intelligence Activities for Teens Ages 13-18 | A 34-page PDF packet
Handouts: Eppler-Wolff Counseling Center (Union College) | Handouts for college students
Healthy Living (Concordia University) | Handouts and articles for college students
Just for Teens: A Personal Plan for Managing Stress | A 7-page PDF handout
Oregon State University: Learning Corner | Student worksheets on time management, wellness, organization skills, etc.
The Relaxation Room (Andrews University) | Self-care and stress management handouts for college students
Resilience Toolkit from Winona State University | PDF handouts for college students on resiliency
Self-Help Resources from Metropolitan Community College Counseling Services | Links to articles for college students on a variety of topics (not in PDF form)
Self-Help (Western Carolina University) | Handouts for college students
Step UP! Program Worksheets and Handouts | Worksheets/handouts for students on prosocial behavior and bystander intervention
Teens Finding Hope: Worksheets and Information to Download | Spanish and English PDFs available
Tip Sheets from Meredith College Counseling Center | Student tip sheets on anger, body image, relationships, and other topics
Tools & Checklists from Campus Mind Works | Handouts and worksheets for students
UC Berkeley University Health Services Resources | Links to handouts, articles, and self-help tools for students
UMatter | Tools for college students on wellness, communication, healthy relationships, and more (Source: Princeton University)
Western Carolina University Counseling and Psychological Services: Self-Help | A modest collection of student wellness handouts along with a printable self-help workbook
Your Life Your Voice (from Boys Town): Tips and Tools | Links to articles and PDF printables on a variety of topics for teens and young adults
21 Couples Therapy Worksheets, Techniques, & Activities | From Positive Psychology
Articles for Parenting from MomMD | Links to various articles/handouts (not in PDF form)
Drawing Effective Personal Boundaries | A 2-page PDF handout (Source: liveandworkonpurpose.com)
Emotionally Focused Therapy: Forms for Couples | A list of forms to use in EFT couples counseling
Exercises for Forgiveness | A 7-page PDF for recovering from an emotional affair
Healthy Boundaries by Larry L. Winckles | A 3-page PDF handout
Healthy Boundaries Program | A 15-page PDF packet (Source: The University of Toledo Police Department)
Healthy Boundaries vs. Unhealthy Boundaries | A 6-page PDF handout (Source: kimsaeed.com)
Hope Couple: Counseling Resources | Assessments and worksheets from a Christian counseling site
Joy2MeU | A collection of articles by Robert Burney on relationships, codependency, and related topics (not in PDF form)
New Beginnings Family Counseling: Handouts | Click on “Resources” to view and download handouts on relationships, anxiety, and depression. You can also download relationship assessment tools
Pasadena Marriage Counseling: Free Marriage Counseling Resources | A small collection of worksheets for couples therapy
Relationship Counseling Forms | PDF forms for couples therapy (Source: Dan Metevier, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist)
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries | A 6-page PDF handout (Source: Healing Private Wounds)
8 Helpful “Letting Go of Resentment” Worksheets | Links to PDF worksheets
90-Day Health Challenge | Several health worksheets for download (Source: HealthyCampbell)
Acorns to Oaktrees: Eating Disorder Worksheets/Eating Disorder Forms | A small collection of handouts for eating disorders
Activity eBooks from Rec Therapy Today | A collection of downloadable workbooks on self-esteem, social skills, emotions, etc.
Alzheimer’s Association: Downloadable Resources | Handouts on Alzheimer’s
Attitudes and Behaviour | A 9-page PDF packet on criminal thinking
Commonly Prescribed Psychotropic Medications | A-page PDF (Source: NAMI Minnesota)
Conflict Resolution Skills | A 6-page PDF packet
Coping Skills | A 2-page PDF worksheet (Source: Temple University)
EDA Step Worksheets | From Eating Disorders Anonymous
Experiential Group Exercises for Shame-Resilience | A 4-page PDF packet with questions for discussion and group activities
Free Mindfulness Worksheets (Mindfulness Exercises) | A large collection of mindfulness handouts
Go Your Own Way | Downloads for veterans on various topics
Guilt vs. Shame Infographic: National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine | Printable infographic to illustrate the differences
Handouts and Worksheets | A 21-page PDF packet with handouts and worksheets on selfe-care topics
Homework and Handouts for Clients: ACT With Compassion | Handouts and worksheets related to self-compassion
Integrated Health and Mental Health Care Tools | Downloadable resources from UIC Center
International OCD Foundation: Assessments & Worksheets | Handouts for use with individuals with OCD
Learning to Forgive: The 5 Steps to Forgiveness | A 6-page PDF handout from Thriveworks
Managing Emotional Intelligence | A 7-page PDF packet (Source: inclusiv.org)
Motivation To Change | A 16-page PDF packet on motivation to change criminal behavior
Peers & Relationships | A 12-page PDF packet on how associates impact criminal behavior
Personal Development: Workplace Strategies for Mental Health | Handouts on resilience, communication, etc.
Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model | A 4-page PDF handout
Quick Reference to Psychotropic Medication | Downloadable PDF chart from John Preston, Psy.D.
Radical Forgiveness: Free Tools | A small collection of worksheets on forgiveness
Reducing Self-Harm | A 5-page PDF
Self-Care and Wellness Resources | Printable handouts and tools (Source: irenegreene.com)
Self-Care Starter Kit from University at Buffalo School of Social Work | Handouts on self-care topics
Self-Directed Recovery | Downloadable resources from UIC Center
Shame Psychoeducation Handout | A 5-page PDF handout
Stages of Change: Primary Tasks | A 2-page PDF handout
Therapy Worksheets: ADHD ReWired | Thought records, behavior charts, and other tools
Understanding and Coping with Guilt and Shame | A 4-page PDF handout
Wellness Toolkits | Printable toolkits from NIH
Please contact me if a link is no longer valid or if you’d like to recommend a site!
Free screening tools for assessing relationship satisfaction/expectations, attachment styles, communication, domestic violence/sex addiction, and more.
Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
A list of free online interactive and PDF assessment tools for providers working with couples. (See Free Online Screening & Assessment Tools for additional screening tools.)
The Companionate Love Scale | Link to a PDF version of this scale to measure companionate love; scoring instructions not included
The Couples Satisfaction Index (CSI) | A 4-page PDF assessment to measure relationship satisfaction; scoring instructions included
Feeling Connected in Your Relationship? | An 18-question interactive quiz from PsychCentral
The Gottman Relationship Checkup | Sign up for a free account to access the online interactive assessment
How Deep Is Your Love? Quiz | A 15-question interactive quiz from PsychCentral
How Strong Is Your Relationship? Quiz | A 10-question interactive quiz from PsychCentral
The Marital Disillusionment Scale | Link to a PDF version of this assessment tool
The Passionate Love Scale | A PDF tool with scoring instructions
Perceived Relationship Quality Components Inventory (PRQC) | Link to a Word version of this scale to assess six components of relationship quality
Quick Compassionate Love Test | A 6-question interactive test from PsychCentral to assess compassion in a relationship
Relationship Assessment Scale | Link to a Word version of this scale with scoring instructions
The Relationship Expectations Questionnaire | A PDF tool; click on link listed in the “Interactive Section for Couples”
Sternberg Triangular Love Test | A 45-question interactive test from PsychCentral to assess intimacy, passion, and commitment
The Sustainable Marriage Quiz | A 10-question interactive quiz from PsychCentral
The Attachment Style Assessment | Interactive tool for assessing how you attach to romantic partners; you must submit your email to see your results
Attachment Styles and Close Relationships | Interactive surveys to determine attachment style
Diane Poole Heller’s Attachment Styles Test | Interactive assessment; you must submit your email to see your score
Measure of Attachment Qualities | Measures adult attachment styles (PDF)
Romantic Attachment Quiz | A 41-item quiz from PsychCentral to help you determine your romantic attachment style in relationships
Vulnerable Attachment Style Questionnaire (VASQ) | Links to PDF version of questionnaire and scoring instructions
The 5 Love Languages | A PDF assessment for assessing primary love “languages”
Interpersonal Communication Skills Inventory | A PDF self-assessment designed to provide insight into communication strengths and areas for development. Includes scoring instructions.
Interpersonal Communication Skills Test – Abridged | Interactive test from PsychCentral
Learn Your Love Language | An online quiz for couples to determine primary love language(s). (You are required to enter your information to get quiz results.)
Open DISC Assessment Test | Online interactive tool for assessing your communication style
Self-Perceived Communication Competence Scale | Printable scale with scoring instructions
Willingness To Communicate | Printable assessment with scoring instructions
Willingness To Listen | Printable assessment with scoring instructions
Danger Assessment Screening Tool | Clinicians can download a PDF version of this assessment, which helps predict the level of danger in an abusive relationship; this screening tool was developed to predict violence and homicide.
Domestic Violence Assessment Tools | Five assessments from the Domestic Shelters site
Domestic Violence Screening Quiz | Interactive test from PsychCentral to determine if you’re involved in a dangerous abusive relationship
Sexual Addiction Quiz | A brief screening measure from PsychCentral to help you determine if you are struggling with sexual addiction
20 Question Self-Assessment for Healthy Boundaries | Download a PDF assessment created by Dr. Jane Bolton; scoring instructions not included
Brief Index of Sexual Functioning for Women (BISF-W) | Subscription required to access assessment tool
Desire to Have Children Scale | Link to a Word version of this scale
Emotional Intelligence Quiz | An online interactive test to measure how well you read other people
Empathy Quiz | An online interactive test to measure empathy
Ideal Partner and Ideal Relationship Scales | Link to Word scales to assess ideal partner attributes and ideal relationship qualities
Interactive Behavioral Couple Therapy Questionnaires | 5 downloadable PDF assessments for couples
Jealousy Instrument | Link to a PDF version of this instrument; scoring instructions not included
Love Attitudes Scale | Link to a Word version of this scale that measures different love styles; scoring instructions included
Marital Offense-Specific Forgiveness Scale | Link to a PDF version of this scale; scoring instructions not included
Perceptions of Love and Sex Scale | Link to a Word version of this scale with scoring instructions
The Relational Assessment Questionnaire | Link to a PDF version of this questionnaire (with scoring instructions) to measure relational aspects of self
Relationship Trust Quiz | An online interactive tool
Respect Toward Partner Scale | Link to a Word version of this scale (with scoring key)
Romantic Partner Conflict Scale (RPCS) | Link to a PDF version of this scale with scoring instructions; Word version also available
The Sexual Disgust Inventory | PDF scale with scoring instructions
The Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale | A 16-item scale (PDF) to measure codependency
Susceptibility to Infidelity Instrument | Link to a PDF version of this instrument and information on scoring
Trust Scale | PDF tool for assessing trust within close interpersonal relationships
(Updated 2/10/20) A resource list for providers who work with youth and families. Free PDF manuals for clinicians and handouts/guides for families.
Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
The original source for this list is my post, Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides. However, the “Children, Youth, & Families” section was becoming too lengthy. The purpose of this post is to organize the youth and family resources so you can quickly find what you’re looking for. This post is divided into two sections: one for providers and one for families.
Adolescent Coping with Depression Course: Leader’s Manual for Adolescent Groups (321 pages) | Student Workbook (199 pages) | Leader’s Manual for Parent Groups (139 pages) | Parent Workbook (73 pages) (Source: Kaiser Permanete for Health Research) (Find more information here)
The Adolescent Coping with Stress Course: An Eight-Session Curriculum Developed for the Prevention of Unipolar Depression in Adolescents with an Increased Future Risk: Leader Manual (118 pages) | Adolescent Workbook (79 pages) (Source: Kaiser Permanete for Health Research) (Find more information here)
The Adolescent Coping with Stress Course: A Fifteen-Session Class Curriculum Developed for the Prevention of Unipolar Depression in Adolescents with an Increased Future Risk: Leader Manual (112 pages) | Adolescent Workbook (82 pages) (Source: Kaiser Permanete for Health Research) (Find more information here)
Break Free from Depression: A 4-Session Curriculum Addressing Adolescent Depression (Source: Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
Partners In Parenting: A DATAR/FIRST CHOICE Treatment Manual (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 294 pages) 2002
The T.O.P. Workbook for Sexual Health: Facilitator’s Manual (Source: Resources for Resolving Violence, Inc., 87 pages) 2010 (Purchase additional workbooks/manuals here)
Getting Along and Keeping It Cool: How Anger Works (Therapist Group Manual) (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions with YouthLink, 79 pages)
On My Own Two Feet Series: Identity and Self-Esteem (76 pages) | Understanding Influences (103 pages) | Assertive Communication (121 pages) | Feelings (83 pages) | Decision Making (113 pages) | Consequences (81 pages) | Work Cards (129 pages) (Source: Department of Education and Skills and Professional Development Services for Teachers) (Find more information here)
Growing Up Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (Source: Department of Education and Skills and the Health Service Executive through the Social, Personal and Health Education Support Service, in conjunction with GLEN [Gay and Lesbian Equality Network] and BeLonG To Youth Services; and Professional Development Services for Teachers, 82 pages) (Find more information here)
It Gets Better: A Group Experience for LGBTQ Youth (Group Curriculum Outline) (Source: Catherine Griffith, Ph.D., 13 pages)
Latino Multifamily Group Program Manual, (Source: Valley Nonprofit Resources, 64 pages)
Be Real. Be Ready. (A comprehensive relationship and sexuality curriculum for high school students) (Source: Adolescent Health Working Group)
Healthy Living, Healthy Minds: A Toolkit for Health Professionals (Promoting Healthy Living in Children and Youth with Mental Health Challenges) (149 pages) | Healthy Living… It’s in Everyone (A Companion Workbook, 82 pages) (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services)
TRUST (Talking. Relationships. Understanding Sexuality. Teaching Resource.) Workbook (Source: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment; Department of Education and Science, the Health Service Executive, and Crisis Pregnancy Agency; and Department of Education and Skills and Professional Development Services for Teachers, 126 pages) (Find more information here)
Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions (Source: Edited by Liana Lowenstein, MSW, 119 pages)
Group Counseling Guide (Group activities for children) (Source: Rita Zniber Foundation, 45 pages)
Alcohol Problems in Intimate Relationships: Identification and Intervention (A Guide for Marriage and Family Therapists) (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 83 pages)
Behavioral Health: Adolescent Provider Toolkit (Source: Adolescent Health Working Group)
Body Basics: Adolescent Provider Toolkit (Source: Adolescent Health Working Group)
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators (Source: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 21 pages)
Community Reinforcement and Family Training Support and Prevention (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 103 pages)
A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LBGT Children (Source: SAMHSA, 18 pages)
Promoting Emotional Resilience: Helping children to find ways to function in a world where bad things happen – A Resource Pack (Source: West Sussex CAMHS and School Attendance Project, 141 pages) 2008
Sexual Health: Adolescent Provider Toolkit (Source: Adolescent Health Working Group
Stress Lessons Toolkit (Source: Psychology Foundation of Canada in partnership with Pfizer Canada, 52 pages) 2012
Trauma & Resilience: Adolescent Provider Toolkit (Source: Adolescent Health Working Group)
The Use of a Full Family Assessment to Identify the Needs of Families with Multiple Problems (Source: UK Department for Education, 105 pages)
Anxiety Toolbox: Student Workbook (42 pages)
COPE (CAPS COPING SKILLS SEMINAR): Student Workbook (Source: West Carolina University Counseling and Psychological Services, 28 pages)
Dealing With Depression: Antidepressant Skills for Teens (Source: Vancouver Psych Safety Consulting Incorporated, 68 pages)
Just as I Am Workbook: A Guided Journal to Free Yourself from Self-Criticism and Feelings of Low Self-Worth (Source: Queen’s University, 56 pages)
Lemons or Lemonade? An Anger Workbook for Teens (Source: Jane F. Gilgun, PhD, LICSW, Education4Health, 38 pages)
Mighty Moe: An Anxiety Workbook for Children (Source: Lacey Woloshyn, 79 pages)
Your Best You: Improving Your Mood (Source: Queen’s University, 103 pages)
Your Best You: Managing Your Anxiety (Source: Queen’s University, 169 pages)
Youth Transition Workbook (Source: Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network/The Rhode Island Transition Council/The Rhode Island Department of Health Youth Advisory Council, 68 pages) 2017
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Information for Families) (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 12 pages)
After an Attempt A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member after Treatment in the Emergency Department (12 pages) | Spanish Version (14 pages) (Source: SAMHSA)
After a Loved One Dies – How Children Grieve and How Parents and Other Adults Can Support Them (Source: New York Life, 24 pages)
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens: A Parent’s Guide (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 27 pages)
Bipolar Disorder: Parents’ Medication Guide for Bipolar Disorder in Children & Adolescents (Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 63 pages)
Borderline Personality Disorder: An Information Guide for Families (Source: CAMH, 72 pages)
Coping with Anxiety During Pregnancy and Following the Birth: A Cognitive Therapy-Based Self-Management Guide for Women and Health Care Providers (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 178 pages)
Coping with Depression During Pregnancy and Following the Birth: A Cognitive Therapy-Based Self-Management Guide for Women (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 118 pages)
Coping with Separation Anxiety Handbook (Source: BC Legal Services Society, 24 pages)
Emotional Intelligence Activities for Teens Ages 13-18 (Source: The Ohio National Guard, 34 pages)
Families in Transition: A Resource Guide for Families of Transgender Youth (Source: Central Toronto Youth Services, 56 pages)
A Family Guide to Concurrent Disorders (Source: CAMH, 222 pages)
Gaining Control of Your Life After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Workbook for Post-natal Depression (Source: Maternal Mental Health Alliance, 38 pages)
The Mind Body Connection and Somatization: A Family Handbook (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 46 pages)
Patient & Family Guide to Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 44 pages)
Postnatal Depression and Perinatal Mental Health (Source: Mind UK, 31 pages)
Recognizing Resilience: A Workbook for Parents and Caregivers of Teens Involved with Substances (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 104 pages)
A Resource Guide for Families Dealing with Mental Illness (Source: Michigan National Alliance on Mental Health, 40 pages)
Suicide Prevention for Consumers and Family Members (Source: Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc., 26 pages)
Tools & Resources (Toolkit for Families) (Source: Kelty Mental Health, 25 pages)
What Community Members Can Do: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters (For Teachers, Clergy, and Other Adults in the Community) (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 20 pages)
Healthy Living for Teens (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 23 pages)
A Sibling’s Guide to Psychosis: Information, Ideas, and Resources (Source: Canada Mental Health Association, 34 pages)
Student Life (Source: Mind UK, 22 pages)
A list of uncommon strategies for coping with stress, depression, and anxiety. Includes a free PDF version of the list to print and use as a handout.
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
With Lauren Mills, MA, LPC-Intern (Contributor)
Effective coping skills make it possible to survive life’s stressors, obstacles, and hardships. Without coping strategies, life would be unmanageable. Dr. Constance Scharff described coping mechanisms as “skills we… have that allow us to make sense of our negative experiences and integrate them into a healthy, sustainable perspective of the world.” Healthy coping strategies promote resilience when experiencing minor stressors, such as getting a poor performance review at work, or major ones, such as the loss of a loved one.
Like any skill, coping is important to practice on a regular basis in order to be effective. Do this by maintaining daily self-care (at a minimum: adequate rest, healthy meals, exercise, staying hydrated, and avoiding drugs/alcohol.)
As an expert on you (and how you adapt to stressful situations), you may already know what helps the most when life seems out-of-control. (I like reading paranormal romance/fantasy-type books!) Maybe you meditate or run or rap along to loud rap music or have snuggle time with the cats or binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. Having insight into/awareness of your coping strategies primes you for unforeseeable tragedies in life.
“Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”Virginia Satir, Therapist (June 26, 2019-September 10, 1988)
Healthy coping varies greatly from person to person; what matters is that your personal strategies work for you. For example, one person may find prayer helpful, but for someone who isn’t religious, prayer might be ineffective. Instead, they may swim laps at the gym when going through a difficult time. Another person may cope by crying and talking it out with a close friend.
Note: there are various mental health treatment approaches (i.e. DBT, trauma-focused CBT, etc.) that incorporate specialized, evidence-based coping techniques that are proven to work (by reducing symptoms and improving wellbeing) for certain disorders. The focus of this post is basic coping, not treatment interventions.
On the topic of coping skills, the research literature is vast (and beyond the scope of this post). While many factors influence coping (i.e. personality/temperament, stressors experienced, mental and physical health, etc.), evidence backs the following methods: problem-solving techniques, mindfulness/meditation, exercise, relaxation techniques, reframing, acceptance, humor, seeking support, and religion/spirituality. (Note that venting is not on the list!) Emotional intelligence may also play a role in the efficiency of coping skills.
In 2011, researchers found that positive reframes, acceptance, and humor were the most effective copings skills for students dealing with small setbacks. The effect of humor as a positive coping skill has been found in prior studies, several of which focused on coping skills in the workplace.
A sport psychology study indicated that professional golfers who used positive self-talk, blocked negative thoughts, maintained focus, and remained in a relaxed state effectively coped with stress, keeping a positive mindset. Effective copers also sought advice as needed throughout the game. A 2015 study suggested that helping others, even strangers, helps mitigate the impact of stress.
Examples of coping skills include prayer, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, talking to a trusted person, journaling, cleaning, and creating art. However, the purpose of this post is to provide coping alternatives. Maybe meditation isn’t your thing or journaling leaves you feeling like crap. Coping is not one-size-fits-all. The best approach to coping is to find and try lots of different things!
The inspiration for this post came from Facebook. (Facebook is awesome for networking! I’m a member of several professional groups.) Lauren Mills sought ideas for unconventional strategies via Facebook… With permission, I’m sharing some of them here!
1) Crack pistachio nuts
2) Fold warm towels
3) Smell your dog (Fun fact: dog paws smell like corn chips!) or watch them sleep
4) Peel dried glue off your hands
5) Break glass at the recycling center
6) Pop bubble wrap
7) Lie upside down
8) Watch slime or pimple popping videos on YouTube
9) Sort and build Lego’s
10) Write in cursive
11) Observe fish in an aquarium
12) Twirl/spin around
13) Solve math problems (by hand)
14) Use a voice-changing app (Snapchat works too) to repeat back your worry/critical thoughts in the voice of a silly character OR sing your worries/thoughts aloud to the tune of “Happy Birthday”
15) Listen to the radio in foreign languages
16) Chop vegetables
17) Go for a joy ride (Windows down!)
18) Watch YouTube videos of cute animals and/or giggling babies
19) Blow bubbles
20) Walk barefoot outside
21) Draw/paint on your skin
22) Play with (dry) rice
23) Do (secret) “random acts of kindness”
24) Play with warm (not hot) candle wax
25) Watch AMSR videos on YouTube
26) Shuffle cards
27) Recite family recipes
28) Find the nicest smelling flowers at a grocery store
29) Count things
30) Use an app to try different hairstyles and/or makeup
31) People-watch with a good friend and make up stories about everyone you see (Take it to the next level with voiceovers!)
32) Wash your face mindfully
33) Buy a karaoke machine and sing your heart out when you’re home alone
34) On Instagram, watch videos of a hydraulic press smash things, cake decorating, pottery/ceramics throwing, hand lettering, and/or woodwork
35) Shine tarnished silver
36) Create a glitter jar and enjoy
37) Tend to plants
38) Color in a vulgar coloring book for adults
Download a PDF version (free) of “Unconventional Coping Strategies” below. This handout can be printed, copied, and shared without the author’s permission, providing it’s not used for monetary gain. Please modify as needed.
Lauren Mills, MA, LPC-Intern (Supervised by Mary Ann Satori, LPC-S) is a therapist in Texas and a current resident in counseling.
I’d like to acknowledge all members of Therapist Toolbox – Resources & Support for Therapists who submitted ideas!
If you have an uncommon coping skill, post in a comment!
Association for Psychological Science. (2015, December 14). Helping others dampens effects of everyday stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151214084744.htm
Canisius College. (2008, January 26). Laughter is the best medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124200913.htm
Loyola University Health System. (2018, September 21). Boosting emotional intelligence in physicians can protect against burnout. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 12, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180921140200.htm
Scharff, C. (2016). Understanding and choosing better coping skills: You can change your mood without drugs. Psychology today. Retrived from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ending-addiction-good/201609/understanding-and-choosing-better-coping-skills
University of Alberta. (2005, June 18). A good game of golf: Mind over matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050617235448.htm
University of Kent. (2011, July 14). Positive reframing, acceptance and humor are the most effective coping strategies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 12, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704082700.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. (2008, April 9). Humor plays an important role in healthcare even when patients are terminally ill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2020 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408112104.htm
Regular self-evaluation is essential for mental health professionals. Use this daily assessment tool (downloadable PDF) to evaluate your ethical and self-care practices.
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
The 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggests taking daily inventory: “A continuous look at our assets and liabilities, and a real desire to learn and grow.” The founders of AA recommend that a person in recovery both “spot check” throughout the day in addition to taking a full inventory every evening, preferably a written one. An honest self-evaluation can assess for resentment, anger, fear, jealousy, etc. According to the principles of AA, self-inventory promotes self-restraint and a sense of justice; it allows one to carefully examine their motives. Furthermore, it allows one to recognize unhealthy or ineffective speech/actions in order to visualize how they could have done better.
Similarly, for best practice, self-evaluation is essential for anyone who works in the mental health (MH) field. It doesn’t have to take place daily, or even weekly, but it’s a necessary measure for any active MH worker. If we don’t regularly examine our motives, professional interactions, and level of burnout, we could potentially cause harm to those we serve.
“As important as it is to have a plan for doing work, it is perhaps more important to have a plan for rest, relaxation, self-care, and sleep.”Akiroq Brost
Much of the self-inventory I created is based on the 2014 ACA (American Counseling Association) Code of Ethics and related issues. According to the code, the fundamental principles of ethical behavior include the following:
• Autonomy (self-sufficiency), or fostering the right to control the direction of one’s life;
• Nonmaleficence, or avoiding actions that cause harm;
• Beneficence, or working for the good of the individual and society by promoting mental health and well-being;
• Justice (remaining just and impartial), or treating individuals equitably and fostering fairness and equality;
• Fidelity (integrity), or honoring commitments and keeping promises, including fulfilling one’s responsibilities of trust in professional relationships; and
• Veracity (genuineness), or dealing truthfully with individuals with whom counselors come into professional contact
The following is a format for MH professionals to evaluate both ethical and self-care practices. It’s meant to be used as a daily assessment tool.
1. Did I cause harm (physical or emotional) today, intentionally or unintentionally, to self or others?
2. If so, how, and what can I do to make amends and prevent reoccurrence?
3. Have I treated everyone I’ve come across with dignity and respect?
4. If no, how did I mistreat others? What were my underlying thoughts/feelings/beliefs? How can I act differently in the future?
5. Have I imposed my personal values on a client (or clients) today?
6. If so, which values, and what steps can I take to prevent this? (Note: professional counselors are to respect diversity and seek training when at risk of imposing personal values, especially when they’re inconsistent with the client’s goals.)
7. Currently, what are my personal biases and how can I overcome (or manage) them?
8. Have I done anything today that has not been in effort to foster client welfare (i.e. self-disclosure for self-fulfilling reasons)?
9. If so, what were my motives and how can I improve on this?
10. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 the greatest), how genuine have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________
11. On a scale from 1-10, how transparent have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________
12. What specific, evidence-based counseling skills, tools, and techniques did I use today? Am I certain there is empirical evidence to support my practice? (If no, how will I remedy this?)
13. Have I practiced outside the boundaries of my professional competence (based on education, training, supervision, and experience) today?
14. What have I done today to advance my knowledge of the counseling profession, including current issues, evidence-based practices, relevant research, etc.?
15. What have I done today to promote social justice?
16. Have I maintained professional boundaries with both colleagues and clients today?
17. Did I protect client confidentially to my best ability today?
18. To my best knowledge, am I adhering to my professional (and agency’s, if applicable) code of ethics?
19. On a scale from 1-10, what is my level of “burnout”? ________
20. What have I done for self-care today?
Areas for Improvement:
Areas in Which I Excel:
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