25 Helpful Examples of Dialectics

This is a list of examples of dialectics: two things that seem opposite – and are at the same time true. A therapy resource for clinicians or counseling students.

For other therapy resources, see 60 Awesome Resources for Therapists and 37 Powerful Therapy Metaphors. Read an article from Psychology Today on the use of dialectics in psychotherapy here.


Examples of Dialectics in Therapy

1. I am strong…yet vulnerable.
2. You can have both fear…and courage at the same time.
3. You feel like you can’t go on…and you still go on.
4. You can be intelligent…and lack self-awareness.
5. I want to change…and I’m afraid to change.
6. You are happy with yourself…and want to improve.
7. I’m doing the best I can…and I need to try harder.
8. I am capable…and I need support.
9. You enjoy the finer things in life…and don’t take the small things for granted.
10. I can love someone…and still hurt them.
11. I love my partner…and I was unfaithful to them.
12. I hate what someone did to me…and I still love them.
13. I am angry with you…and I will treat you with respect.
14. You can care about someone deeply…and still not want them in your life.
15. You feel happy for someone…and are envious of them.
16. I am happy for you…yet sad for myself.
17. You can feel sorry about something…and not regret it.
18. I acknowledge and accept others’ views…and have my own beliefs.
19. You can accept someone…and disagree with them at the same time.
20. I disagree with you…and I understand your perspective.
21. You want to be sober…and you want to get drunk/high.
22. You experience strong cravings…and you don’t want to get drunk/high.
23. I had a bad childhood…and I can live a good life.
24. What happened wasn’t okay…and you can learn from it and move forward.
25. I didn’t cause all my problems…and I need to solve them.

Free Printable PDF for Download:


examples of dialectics

20 Check-In Ideas for Therapy Sessions

This is a list of 20 check-in ideas for counseling sessions

check-in ideas
Image by cm_dasilva from Pixabay

How do you start out a counseling session? For example, my go-to check-ins for gauging where the client is at are: “How has your day been?” and “How are you feeling today?”

Checking in helps to assess for mood and can create a focus for the session. Check-ins can also help to increase the client’s comfort level and create a safe space for sharing and healing.

We all need somewhere where we feel safe.

Emma Thompson

This is a resource list for mental health clinicians with 20 check-in ideas for therapy.


Check-In Ideas for Therapy Sessions

1) I’m glad you’re here! What brings you in? (For initial session)

2) Good to see you! How was the drive?

3) What are you hoping to get out of our session today?

4) What are your goals for today?

5) What would you like to focus on today?

6) Where would you like to start?

7) Would you like to start by reviewing the homework session?

8) Let’s begin with a short meditation. [Guide client through meditation or imagery exercise]

9) Last week we left off on [topic or themes from previous session]. Where do you want to pick up today?

10) How is your mind?

11) Where are you at today?

12) Rate your mood on a scale from 1-10.

13) What are some things you’re feeling good about?

14) What’s been going well this week?

15) What’s something positive that’s happened since we last met?

16) Anything new or exciting since we last met?

17) What’s new in your world?

18) What are some highs and lows you’ve experienced?

19) What’s been working for you and what have you found challenging?

20) Catch me up on things.


For additional check-in ideas, see Group Check-In Ideas and Do You Speak Therapist?


For avoiding suggestibility in initial interviews, read Client Suggestibility: A Beginner’s Guide for Mental Health Professionals from the American Counseling Association.


Click below for a PDF version of this post:

20 Check-In Ideas for Therapy

check-in ideas

75 Helpful Anger Management Resources

This resource list for anger management includes 75+ articles/guides; free anger assessments (both interactive and PDF formats); free printable workbooks, manuals, handouts, and worksheets; treatment planning resources; research articles/dissertations; and recommended mobile apps.

Please share this resource with anyone you think would benefit!


75+ Anger Management Resources

Articles & Guides

Free Assessments for Anger


For additional free assessments, see Free Online Assessment & Screening Tools.

Free PDF Handouts & Worksheets


For additional sites with free therapy worksheets, see Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets.

Free PDF Workbooks & Manuals


For additional printable PDF workbooks and manuals, see Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides.

Treatment Planning Resources

Research Articles & Dissertations


anger management

Grief & Loss: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

This resource guide for grief & loss is for mental health professionals as well as for anyone who is grieving. This grief & loss guide includes a list of recommended books (for both adults and children); free printable PDF workbooks and handouts; and links to education and support sites.


Disclaimer: This section contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (2000) by Pauline Boss, Ph.D. (176 pages)


Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief (2017) by Joanne Cacciatore, Ph.D. (248 pages)


The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change (2006) by Melody Beattie (368 pages)


Grief Day by Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with Loss (2018) by Jan Warner (272 pages)


The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith (2009) by John W. James & Russell Friedman (240 pages)


Healing a Teen’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers (Healing a Grieving Heart Series) (2001) by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. (128 pages)


How to Survive the Loss of a Love (2006) by Melba Colgrove, Ph.D., Harold H. Bloomfield, MD, & Peter McWilliams (208 pages)


It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief & Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand (2017) by Megan Divine (280 pages)


I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One (2008) by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D. (292 pages)


No Time for Goodbyes: Coping with Sorrow, Anger, and Injustice After a Tragic Death, 7th ed. (2014) by Janice Harris Lord (240 pages)


Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Do Grief (2014) by Tom Zuba (121 pages)


Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything (2017) by Lucy Hone, Ph.D. (256 pages)


Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart (2019) by Stephen Levine (240 pages)


When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (2016) by Pema Chodron (176 pages)


The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief (2015) by Francis Weller (224 pages)

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages (1982) by Leo Buscaglia (32 pages, for ages 4-8)


Healing Your Grieving Heart for Kids: 100 Practical Ideas (Healing Your Grieving Heart Series) (2001) by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. (128 pages, for ages 12-14)


Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical Ideas (Healing Your Grieving Heart Series) (2001) by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. (128 pages, for ages 12-18)


The Invisible String (2018) by Patrice Karst (40 pages, for ages 4-8)


The Memory Box: A Book About Grief (2017) by Joanna Rowland (32 pages, for ages 4-8)


Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss (2005) by Pat Schwiebert & Chuck DeKlyen (56 pages, for ages 8-12 years)


When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Tales: Life Guides for Families) (1998) by Laurie Krasny Brown (32 pages, for ages 4-8)


When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief (1996) by Marge Heegaard (32 pages, for ages 9-12)


When Something Terrible Happens: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief (1992) by Marge Heegaard (32 pages, for ages 4-8)

Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children (2006) by Liana Lowenstein (205 pages)


Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, Fifth Edition: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (2018) by William Worden, Ph.D. (352 pages)


Grief Counseling Homework Planner (PracticePlanners) (2017) by Phil Rich (272 pages)


In the Presence of Grief: Helping Family Members Resolve Death, Dying, and Bereavement Issues (2003) by Dorothy S. Becvar (284 pages)


Transforming Grief & Loss Workbook: Activities, Exercises & Skills to Coach Your Client Through Life Transitions (2016) by Ligia Houben (264 pages)


Treating Traumatic Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide (2014) by Laurie Anne Pearlman, Ph.D., Camille B. Wortman, Ph.D., Catherine A. Feuer, Ph.D., Christine H. Farber, Ph.D., & Therese A. Rando, Ph.D. (358 pages)

Free Printable Workbooks & Handouts for Grief & Loss


grief & loss

For grief & loss related to suicide, see Resources for Suicide Prevention & Recovery.

Group Therapy: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

A resource guide for group facilitation

Initially, the idea of group therapy terrified me. What if I couldn’t “control” the group? What if a client challenged me? What if I couldn’t think of anything to say? What if everyone got up and walked out? – which actually happened, once, by the way.

What made group counseling especially intimidating was that if I “messed up,” an entire group of people [as opposed to one person] would witness my failure.

Group facilitation wasn’t always comfortable and I made many (many!) mistakes, but I grew. I realized it’s okay to be 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.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Group Therapy Guidelines

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.

Are you a therapist, social worker, or peer support specialist who provides group counseling? Click here for guidelines from the American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Want to learn about current best practice in group work? Click here for the revised guidelines from the Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW).

Additionally, 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.

Book Recommendations

Disclaimer: This section contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.


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.”

Textbooks


(For additional book recommendations, see Resources for Mental Health Professionals and Must-Read Books for Therapists.)

Icebreakers & Activities

You only have to Google “icebreakers” and you’ll have a million activities to choose from. I’m not listing many, but they’re ones clients seem to enjoy the most.

Fun Facts

My favorite 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.)


Icebreaker Question Cards

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).


“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).


First Impressions

“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.


Affirmations Group

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!)


Most Likely & Least Likely to Relapse

“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 more group therapy worksheets and handouts here.

Additional Group Activities

Psychoeducation & Process Groups

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.

Additional Ideas for Psychoeducation & Process Groups

Practical Tips for Psychoeducation & Process Groups

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 an experiential or interactive exercise isn’t 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.

Dealing with Challenges

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 a helpful article from Counseling Today that addresses the concept of client resistance.

Tips for Dealing with Challenges

1. If possible, co-facilitate. One clinician leads while the other observes. The observer remains attuned to the general “tone” of the group, i.e. facial expressions, body language, etc.

2. Review the expectations at the beginning of every group. Ask clients to share the guidelines with each other (instead of you telling them). This promotes a collaborative spirit.

3. After guidelines are reviewed, explain that while interrupting is discouraged, there may be times when you interject to maintain the overall wellness and safety of the group. (Knowing this, a client is less likely to get angry or feel disrespected when/if it happens.)

4. If you must interrupt, apologize, and explain the rationale.

5. Avoid power struggles at all costs, especially when a client challenges the benefits of treatment. (The unhealthier group members will quickly side with a challenger, leading to a complaint session.) Challenging the efficacy of treatment (or you as a clinician) is often a defense mechanism. Sometimes, the best response is simply “okay,” or none at all… and keep moving. You can also acknowledge the client’s perspective and ask to meet with them after group (and then get back on topic). If the group is relatively healthy, you may want to illicit feedback from other group members.

6. If a client becomes angry or tearful, give them time to vent for a moment or two (don’t “Band-Aid”); they may be able to self-regulate. (If they do self-regulate, share your observations and offer praise.)

7. If a client’s anger escalates to a disruptive level, ask them to take a break. At this point, their behavior is potentially triggering to other group members. Don’t raise your voice or ask them to calm down. Direct them step out and return when they’re ready. You may have to repeat yourself several times, but remain firm and calm, and they will eventually listen.

8. If a client is disrespectful (cursing at you or another client, name-calling, insulting, etc.) while escalated, let them know it’s not okay, but don’t attempt to provide feedback. (A simple, “Hey, that’s not okay,” will suffice.) Bring it up with the client later when they’re able to process.

9. Once the disgruntled client exits the room, acknowledge what happened and let the group know you will follow up with the client. If another client wants to talk about it, ask them to share only how it made them feel, but stress that it’s not okay to talk about an absent group member. (“How would you feel if we talked about you when you weren’t here?”) Strongly suggest that they wait until the person returns (and is open) to have a group discussion.

10. After a major blow-up (and once everyone is calm), it can be beneficial for the group to process it with the person who escalated. Group members can empathize/relate, share their observations and/or how it made them feel, and offer feedback.

11. If other disruptive behaviors occur in group (side conversations, snoring, etc.) address them in the moment (without shaming, of course). Point out the behavior and explain how it’s disruptive to the group. Refer back to the group guidelines. Ask group members to comment as well. If you let a behavior persist, hoping it will eventually stop, you’re sending the message that it’s okay, not only to the person who is disruptive, but to the entire group. This impacts the integrity of the group and opens things up for additional disruptive behaviors.

12. For clients who monopolize, who are constantly joking, or who attempt to intentionally distract by changing the topic, point out your observations and encourage group members to give feedback.

13. If, on the other hand, clients seem disengaged or unmotivated, seek out their feedback, privately or in the group, whichever is clinically appropriate.

14. If there’s a general level of disengagement, bring it up in the group. Remain objective and state your observations.

15. Anticipate that at times, people may not have much to say. (And while yes, there’s always something to talk about, that doesn’t mean someone is ready to or has the emotional energy to.) Maybe they’re distracted or tired or feeling “talked out.” It’s good to have backup plans: watch a psychoeducational film, take a walk in the park, listen to meditations or music, provide worksheets, education reading material, or coloring sheets.

16. 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.


Professional Group Therapy Organizations

Academic Articles

Online Articles

Additional Links


  • The Center for Group Studies | The Center provides a unique method of group training. Principles and techniques are based on the theory that the group is a powerful agent of change.
  • Group Dynamics | This blog provides some links and book chapters on various topics related to the study of groups. You can also find teaching resources related to group dynamics. 
  • Management Library | This site provides free resources for managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Much of the content on facilitation and teams is applicable to group facilitation.
  • My Group Guide | A great tool for those who do not have the time to find worksheets/handouts for their clients, group activities, and other resources.
  • Resources in Group Psychotherapy | Helpful resources and links for group psychotherapy from the Sacramento Center for Psychotherapy, including an online forum.
  • Systems-Centered Training & Research Institute | SCTRI is an non-profit organization with members from all around the world that supports training and research in the systems-centered approach. 

group therapy

Do You Speak Therapist? 50 Expressions That Never Fail

A list of common questions and phrases used in therapy – includes a free PDF printable version of this resource

therapist office
Image by DanielCubas from Pixabay

Do You Speak Therapist?

Therapists have their own unique (and purposeful) language. We may use clinical jargon when talking to other clinicians, but when we’re with our clients (and most likely, with other significant people in our lives), we are focused and thoughtful. We speak therapist.

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.


Do You Speak Therapist?

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 [evidence that supports an idea], but other studies have found that [evidence that doesn’t support an idea].

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 [previous statement or question]. 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 [name of relative/significant other/friend/colleague] would say if they were here in this room with us?

35. If it was [name of relative/significant other/friend/colleague] in this situation, what advice would you give them?

36. What does [belief/action/feeling] look like to you?

37. What does [belief/action/feeling] mean to you?

38. What message did you hear when they said…

39. How would your life be different if you didn’t have [mental illness, an addiction, this problem, etc.]?

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 [client statement or behavior], but on the other [contrary client statement or behavior]

47. You say [client statement], but your actions say…

48. I’m concerned that…

49. I can only imagine how [emotion word] that was for you.

50. Can we explore this more?


For additional conversation starters and questions, see 161 Questions to Explore Values, Ideas, & Beliefs.

speak therapist

6 Powerful Movies About Addiction & Mental Illness

(Updated 5/20/20) A list of movies about mental health and substance abuse – includes PDF printable discussion questions

watching TV
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The following is a list of movies about addiction and mental disorders 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.

Movies About Addiction & Mental Illness

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.


Ben Is Back (2018)

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.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

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.

Pay It Forward (2000)

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.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

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.

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

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.

When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

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.

Bonus: The Netflix original films Heroin(e) (2017) and Recovery Boys (2018) have PDF discussion guides with a summary, questions, and resources posted on the Recovery Boys website.


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.

movies about addiction

200+ Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts

(Updated 5/12/22) If you’re a counselor or therapist, you’re probably familiar with Therapist Aid, one of the most well-known sites for providing no-cost therapy worksheets. But Therapist Aid isn’t the only resource for free clinical tools! This is a list of over 200 sites with free therapy worksheets and handouts.

free therapy worksheets
Image by Free stock photos from www.rupixen.com from Pixabay

See below for links to websites with free therapy worksheets and handouts for clinical use and self-help.


(Click here for therapy worksheets, handouts, and guides posted on this site.)


Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts

Therapy Worksheets for Mental Health

Therapy Worksheets for Substance Use Disorders & Addiction

Depression, Stress, & Anxiety

Trauma & Related Disorders

Psychosis

Grief & Loss

Anger

Self-Esteem

Values & Goal-Setting

Wellness & Resiliency

ACT, CBT, & DBT Therapy Worksheets

Therapy Worksheets for Children & Youth

Therapy Worksheets for Adolescents & Young Adults

Therapy Worksheets for Marriage/Relationships & Family

Additional Therapy Worksheets & Handouts


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Please contact me if a link isn’t working or if you’d like to recommend a site with free therapy worksheets!

free therapy worksheets

38 Unconventional Coping Strategies

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.

Image by Daniel Sampaio Donate if you want (Paypal) from Pixabay

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.

Image by Victor Vote from Pixabay

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.


Current Research

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!

Image by Amanda Oliveira from Pixabay

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!    


Unconventional Coping Strategies

  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

Image by A_Different_Perspective from Pixabay

Click below for a PDF version of “Unconventional Coping Strategies.” This handout can be printed, copied, and shared without the author’s permission, providing it’s not used for monetary gain.

Unconventional Coping Strategies


  • Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
  • With Lauren Mills, MA, LPC-Intern (Contributor)
  • 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!

coping strategies

60 Awesome Resources for Therapists


(Updated 10/23/21) This is a list of over 60 resources for therapists. Please share with mental health professionals who could benefit!

Please check back as I update regularly with new resources for therapists and other mental health professionals.

If you have a suggestion, use the contact form on this site.


60 Resources for Therapists

Disclaimer: Some posts contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Suggested Books

Armstrong, C. (2015). The Therapeutic “Aha!” Strategies for Getting Your Clients Unstuck.


Belmont, J. (2015). The Therapist’s Ultimate Solution Book.


Buchalter, S. I. (2017). 250 Brief, Creative & Practical Art Therapy Techniques: A Guide for Clinicians and Clients


Rosenglen, D. B. (2018). Building Motivational Interviewing Skills: A Practitioner Workbook, 2nd ed.




Websites & Blogs


Handouts & Worksheets



Social Media Groups & Forums


resources for therapists