250+ Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets

Mind Remake Project’s comprehensive guide for free therapy worksheets, featuring a large collection of websites offering valuable resources at no cost.

Bookmark this page! Welcome to the updated edition of Mind Remake Project’s comprehensive guide for free therapy worksheets, featuring a large collection of websites offering valuable resources at no cost for both mental health professionals and consumers.

Explore a vast assortment of free therapy worksheets, download informative mental health factsheets, and delve into supplementary and bonus materials from reputable publishers like Guilford Press and Oxford Publishing. For a deeper understanding of clinical practices, access guidelines from trusted organizations such as SAMHSA and the American Psychiatric Association.

The previous version of this post, 200+ Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets, is still available for reference, but it has been archived, as many of the featured webpages no longer exist or the once free resources are now for a fee.

The majority of sites included in this guide were carefully selected based on the following criteria:

  • Ease of Use: Sites with minimal ads and intuitive navigation were prioritized.
  • Quantity: Sites offering a substantial volume of free resources were favored.
  • Quality: Sites providing high-quality and informative materials were chosen.
  • Accessibility: Sites that did not require registration or email sign-up to access free resources were preferred.

Before downloading any resource from the sites below, please read and adhere to the site or organization’s copyrights or limitations. For example, some of the materials may only be available for personal use.

I firmly believe that mental health resources should be accessible to everyone, regardless of financial constraints. However, if you are able to, please consider making a donation to the sites or organizations that generously provide free valuable materials (when applicable).

I am not benefiting financially or otherwise from the links in this post, and I am not affiliated with the companies or organizations whose links are included in this post. Also, I am not endorsing any products or services. I am simply sharing these links because I believe they may be useful to my readers; Mind Remake Project’s mission is to provide free mental health resources.

Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets

Here’s a list of sites with free therapy worksheets, guides, and other tools for mental health professionals and consumers:

Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts

Acorns to Oaktrees | Eating Disorder Worksheets/Eating Disorder Forms A small collection of handouts for eating disorders and body image.

ACT With Compassion ACT-based worksheets, handouts, exercises, and more for working with self-criticism and shame, as well as resources based on compassion-focused therapy, radically open DBT, and emotion-focused therapy.

ADHD ReWired | Therapy Worksheets Thought records, behavior charts, and other tools for ADHD management.

Alzheimer’s Association | Downloadable Resources for Patients & Caregivers Handouts on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some resources are also available in Spanish.

Andrews University | The Relaxation Room Several self-care and stress management handouts for college students.

Anger Management Resource | Anger Management Worksheets A few free therapy worksheets, handouts, and articles for anger management.

Anger Resources | Anger Management Tools, Seminars, & Self-Tests Assessments, articles, worksheets, and more on anger topics.

Anxiety Canada Worksheets, guides, handouts, factsheets, and more for anxiety.

Australian Academic Press (AAP) | AAP Downloads Several free downloads, including a CBT worksheet packet.

Beck Institute | CBT Worksheet Packet A 74-page worksheet packet from the Beck Institute.

Belmont Wellness | Psychoeducation Handouts and free therapy worksheets from mental health author and motivational speaker Judy Belmont.

Berkeley University Health Services | Handouts Student handouts on mental health topics.

Between Sessions Hundreds of free therapy worksheets and workbooks derived from evidence-based therapies, designed by experienced professionals.

Black Dog Institute | Resources Mental health resources and support tools for anxiety, depression, and more that are research-informed and recommended by professionals.

Brené Brown | Resources “A collection of tools that’ll take you deeper into our work—and help you make it your own.”

Brescia at Western University | Resource Toolbox Downloadable tools for students on wellness topics.

CAMHS | Young People Downloads on various mental health topics for parents, children, and adolescents.

Campus Mind Works at University of Michigan | Tools & Checklists Worksheets, tools, and handouts for students on wellness topics.

Carepatron | Templates Free templates with the creation of a (free) account, from Carepatron, a practice management company.

Carolina Integrative Psychotherapy | Forms & Worksheets for Clients & Group Participants DBT worksheets for individuals, couples, and families.

Carol Lozier, LCSW | Dialectical Behavior Therapy Printables: Worksheets & Handouts A small collection of DBT worksheets and handouts.

CBT Psychology for Personal Development | CBT Worksheets Several free CBT worksheets and forms. This site also offers OCD worksheets for children and 2 relaxation handouts.

CCI | Self-Help Resources for Mental Health Problems A wealth of evidence-based online resources to support practitioners or for self-help.

Center for Prolonged Grief | Resources Several printable guides and other resources for grievers.

Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress | Therapist Resources Client handouts, assessments, info sheets, toolkits, training resources, links, and more from UW Medicine Harborview Medical Center.

Change to Chill | Worksheets/Handouts Free therapy worksheets, coloring pages, audio files, mindfulness exercises, and more from Change to Chill, a free mental wellbeing resource site for teens and young adults.

Choose Help | In-Depth Articles About Mental Health & Addiction A selection of print-friendly articles on addiction and recovery topics.

Christina Bell, Registered Psychologist | Downloads Free downloadable toolkits on boundaries, sleep, relationships, and more.

Client Worksheets from Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders (Treatment Improvement Protocols Services) 44 free therapy worksheets on addiction and recovery from SAMHSA/NIH.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles | Free Online CBT Workbook A free online 8-module workbook from Albert Bonfil, PsyD, and Suraji Wagage, Ph.D., JD, for learning CBT.

Connect Core Concepts in Health | Wellness Worksheets Health and wellness worksheets for students.

Coping.us Printable tools for coping from James J. Messina, Ph.D., and Constance Messina, Ph.D.

Corner Canyon Counseling | Patient Education for Mental Health Articles, assessments, assignments, and information on a wide range of mental health topics.

Counselling Tutor Guides on counseling theories and techniques.

Counselors Associated | Free PDFs A small collection of PDF downloads for stress reduction, self-improvement, and more.

Courage to Nourish | Eating Disorder Recovery Resources Free tools for disordered eating and body image; email signup required.

Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute | Resources Printable handouts, articles, stress reduction exercises, assessments, workshops, and more.

David Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages | Disaster Mental Health Handouts 14 disaster handouts for adults, children, and families.

DBT Peer Connections | DBT Handouts & Worksheets DBT resources from Rachel Gill.

DBT Self-Help | Diary Cards Free downloadable diary cards from DBT Self-Help, the largest free Dialectical Behavioral Therapy resource dedicated to making DBT accessible to all.

DBT® Skills Training Manual, 2nd Edition The entire collection of DBT handouts from Mindsplain.

DBT® Skills Training Handouts & Worksheets, 2nd Edition The entire collection of DBT worksheets from DBT Campus.

Dearborn County CASA | 8 Dimensions of Wellness 4 free wellness downloads.

Destiny’s Odyssey | Self Discovery – Self Awareness Free resources for self-discovery and personal growth.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) | Skills, Worksheets, & Videos Free DBT worksheets and more for learning the core skills of mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training with Adolescents-Workbook A 131-page PDF workbook from Mindful Mind & Body.

Dialectical Behavioral Skills Training | DBT Work Sheets Index Free DBT worksheets.

DNA-V Resources ACT-based meditations and worksheets.

Doorways to Self-Esteem | Self-Esteem Activities A modest collection of handouts/activities for building self-esteem.

Dr. Daniel Fox | Worksheets Free therapy worksheets for emotion regulation, anger, and more from Daniel J. Fox.

Dr. Grant Blashki | CBT Worksheets A small collection of downloadable therapy worksheets along with links to CBT videos.

Dr. John Barletta | Articles Handouts and more on a variety of topics such as wellness, relationships, and self-compassion.

Dr. John Forsyth | Free Resources 2 free worksheet packets for anxiety.

Dr. Jonathan S. Abramowitz | Free Stuff for Consumers & Professionals Several CBT forms and handouts for OCD and anxiety disorders.

Early Psychosis Intervention | Downloads A toolkit for individuals dealing with psychosis.

EchoHawk Counseling Christian-friendly worksheets and materials on a variety of mental health topics.

Emotional Affair Journey Free therapy worksheets, articles, guides, and more for emotional affair recovery.

Emotionally Focused Therapy TRI EFT Alliant | Forms for Couples A list of forms to use in EFT couples counseling.

Eppler-Wolff Counseling Center | Handouts Worksheets and handouts to help students cope with the transition from high school to college and to have a better college experience overall.

Essential Life Skills | Self-Help Worksheets A collection of free downloadable tools and worksheets on topics related to wellness, balance, and resilience.

Excel at Life | Free Audios Index Free audios with transcripts to energize, motivate, relax, and more.

Faith G. Harper | Worksheets & Printables A modest collection of worksheets and handouts on emotions/sensations, positive psychology, solution-focused problem-solving, and more.

F.A.S.T. Lab at Stanford Medicine | Printable Versions of CPT/CBT Worksheets English and Spanish worksheets from the Fidelity, Adaptation, Sustainability, and Training Lab at The National Center for PTSD.

Gentle Stress Relief | Stress Relief Resources That Work Stress relief resources covering a number of different perspectives. (Click here for anger management tools from Gentle Stress Relief.)

Get.gg – Getselfhelp.co.uk CBT self-help and therapy resources.

Good Knowledge | Good Medicine Questionnaires, information leaflets, PowerPoints, and other handouts on personal development and mental health from Dr. James Hawkins.

GoYourOwnWay | Document Downloads Handouts and tools for Veterans on various topics such as addiction, fear, spirituality, and more.

Hamilton’s Funeral Home | Printable Grief & Loss Resources A fairly extensive collection of printable handouts on grief and loss.

HappierTHERAPY | Mental Health Worksheets Hundreds of free therapy worksheets with a unique feature: Every downloadable worksheet includes a how-to guide for clinical use. DISCLAIMER: A drawback to using HappierTHERAPY is that the majority of the worksheets contain typos and formatting errors. While this site doesn’t meet quality criteria for selection, the worksheets can be easily edited using a program like Foxit PDF Editor.

Harm Reduction for Alcohol (HAMS)| Worksheets A small collection of worksheets from the HAMS book on how to change drinking habits.

Healing Private Wounds | Resources Faith-based handouts on healing from sexual abuse.

Health Powered Kids | Health Lessons & Lesson Plans for Kids Lesson plans on health and wellness topics; many of the lesson plans include printable worksheets for children.

Health Vista | Health Education Resources Free workbooks, worksheets, and handouts on a wide range of health topics including mental health issues such as addiction, mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, and more.

Healthy Minds | Worksheets Free mental health worksheets for children.

Here to Help | Wellness Modules 11 wellness modules that can be explored interactively or printed as PDFs.

Hoffman Institute Tools Downloadable tools to assist in discovering patterns, finding compassion and forgiveness, and creating a more empowered, fulfilled life.

Hope Couples Counseling | Couples Worksheets Faith-based worksheets, handouts, and more for couples therapy.

Hospice & Palliative Care | Bereavement Handouts A small collection of handouts on grief topics.

HowTherapyWorks A few free resources for clients/consumers on the therapeutic process from Jeffery Smith, MD.

How We Love | Freebies Several free downloads on love and relationships.

Ineffable Living | Free Mental Health Worksheets-Printable PDF Library Hundreds of worksheets and journal prompts on topics such as codependency, trauma, abuse, self-love, relationships, and more. For a small fee, download all worksheet bundles and gain access to the “VIP Library.”

Inner Health Studio | Easy Relaxation Techniques Free relaxation scripts, audio and video downloads, mental health worksheets, and self-help techniques for coping with stress more effectively.

Integrity Counseling Handouts Client handouts on addiction and recovery topics.

International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) | Brochures, Fact Sheets, & Handouts Handouts and guides from IOCDF with the most up-to-date information on OCD and related disorders.

Invisible Lioness | 8 Helpful “Letting Go of Resentment” Worksheets Links to PDF downloads for coping with resentments and letting go.

Irene Greene, MSED: Greene Growth & Training | Self-Care & Wellness Resources Free self-care and wellness downloads.

James Drew Psychotherapy | Forms A small collection of free therapy worksheets and handouts on feelings, communication, values, goals, and more.

Joanna Anastasia | Worksheets for Building Body Confidence & Self-Acceptance Free therapy worksheets for developing a body positive attitude.

Journey to Recovery | Mental Health Worksheets 350+ therapy tools designed by a psychologist, including worksheets, journals, and lesson plans. While not entirely free, a subscription is only $10/month or $100/year.

Keeping Life Real Worksheet collections on various topics, many that were originally published by Between Sessions:

Living CBT | Free Self-Help A collection of 20+ CBT worksheets.

Living Life to the Full (LLTTF) | Resources A modest collection of handouts and worksheets from LLTTF; materials can be accessed through the courses. Books and additional resources can be purchased from the shop.

LoveToKnow | Free Anger Worksheets 7 downloadable anger management worksheets.

Mental Health CE Course Articles Course content handouts on a variety of mental health topics.

Mental Health Worksheets This site is similar to HappierTHERAPY in that it offers a large quantity of free worksheets, but of low quality. (HappierTHERAPY and Mental Health Worksheets are both PressPublish sites.)

Mindfulness Exercises Hundreds of free downloadable mindfulness scripts with video and/or audio guidance.

Mind My Peelings | Worksheets & Infographics Several free resources for anxiety, depression, and mental health.

Mind Remake Project | Free Worksheets & Handouts Free therapy worksheets, workbooks, handouts, card decks, and more from this site.

MindWell Click through the different modules to access the handouts and free therapy worksheets. Professional tools and resources are also available.

MN Trauma Project | Downloadable Resources to Use in Therapy A short list of trauma worksheets.

Montreal Psychologist | Self-Help Toolkits Articles and handouts on worry, depression, assertiveness, and more.

Morning Light Counseling | Counseling Library Dozens of free printable PDF handouts on a variety of counseling topics.

Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) | Library Motivational interviewing worksheets and handouts from MINT.

Multicultural Psychology | Downloadable Worksheets & Documents Evidence-informed worksheets, exercises, and guidelines for use in prevention, intervention, and educational/training contexts.

My Crossing Paths | Book Handouts Free therapy worksheets and handouts for trauma, addiction, and more.

MyGriefAssist | Factsheets A collection of 43 printable handouts written by experts in the field on grief topics.

My Group Guide | Free Therapy Worksheets, Group Activities, & More Select group materials can be downloaded for free. For access to the full library (600+ resources), a subscription is $15.99/month.

Mylemarks | Free Downloads Nearly 50 free therapy worksheets for children.

Nancy L. Johnston | Downloads A small collection of downloads on codependency, enabling, and more.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits 5 wellness toolkits for environmental health, emotional wellbeing, physical health, relationships, and preventative wellness.

New Beginnings Family Counseling | Handouts Tools and handouts on communication, attachment styles, emotions, and more.

No Body’s Perfect | Worksheets Free therapy worksheets for use in the classroom or home environment, as well as worksheets for adult helpers working on their own body image and mental health.

Oklahoma TF-CBT Therapy Resources Printable trauma-focused handouts and assessments for therapists to use with children and adolescents.

Online CBT Resources Free therapy worksheets and questionnaires from Andrew Grimmer, a counselling psychologist and accredited cognitive behavioural psychotherapist in the UK.

Oregon State University Learning Corner | All Worksheets Handouts and worksheets for college students on time management, wellness, organization skills, and more.

Pasadena Marriage Counseling | Free Marriage Counseling Resources A small collection of free therapy worksheets for couples.

Paul David, Ph.D. | Articles by Dr. Paul David Articles on addiction, relationships, loss, and more.

Peacefully | Worksheets to Help Those Coping with Grief A collection of handouts and worksheets on grief topics.

Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D. | Addiction Recovery Worksheets A modest collection of free therapy worksheets and handouts for addiction and recovery.

Personal Development Insights | Personal Development Worksheets Free worksheets for personal growth.

PlantLoveGrow | Free Tools Free downloads and resources to assist parents, teachers, and health professionals.

PositivePsychology.com Free positive psychology worksheets, assessments, and more; browse blog posts to find and access the tools. Worksheet packets can also be purchased for $17.

Present Centered Therapy | Self-Help Library Handouts on topics including communication, relationships, anxiety, ADHD, anger, depression, and more.

Psychological Self-Help: A Free Online Psychological Self-Help Book Not worksheets, but free book chapters for download on self-help topics. (The book can be downloaded in its entirety as well.)

PsychPoint | Mental Health Worksheets Handouts and free therapy worksheets designed by mental health professionals for clinical use. The standard worksheets can be downloaded for free after a 60-second waiting period (for each worksheet). Alternatively, a subscription is $99 for instant downloads and enables access to the full library. (Note: Only licensed clinicians in the United States can sign up.)

Radical Forgiveness | Free Tools A modest collection of free therapy worksheets on forgiveness.

A Recovery Story | Worksheets A small collection of addiction and recovery worksheets.

Rec Therapy Today | Activity eBooks Downloadable workbooks on self-esteem, social skills, emotions, gratitude, and more.

The Relationship Institute | Resources & Information Articles, handouts, and assessments for marriage and relationships.

Self-Esteem Experts | Recommended Self-Esteem Worksheets A small collection of free therapy worksheets for building self-esteem.

Simple Practice | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Worksheets Email signup is required to access the worksheet bundle.

Sleep & Depression Laboratory | Resources Worksheets and tools for sleep, worry, and depression from Dr. Colleen E. Carney.

SMART Recovery | SMART Recovery Toolbox Sensible tools based on developing cognitive thinking skills to support addiction recovery.

Social Workers Toolbox A collection of free therapy worksheets and other resources for children and adults.

Social Work Tech | Tools Therapist-developed tools to use in clinical practice.

Step UP! Resource Library Worksheets and handouts for students on prosocial behavior and bystander intervention.

Taking the Escalator | Therapy Tools A large collection of tools and resources for addiction and recovery groups and for trauma.

TalkPlus | Downloads Free therapy worksheets and documents as well as self-help guides and information booklets.

Teens Finding Hope | Worksheets & Information to Download Spanish and English worksheets for teens on mental health topics.

Telehealth Therapy Resources A collection of free therapy worksheets and resources for telehealth clinicians on anger, anxiety, goals, grief, trauma, and more.

Texas Health & Human Services | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Resources A modest collection of CBT worksheets, guides, and training materials. Many of the resources are also available in Spanish.

TheraNest | Therapy Tools & Resources for Mental Health Providers Email signup is required to access the free templates.

Therapist Aid Hundreds of free evidence-based therapy worksheets and other tools for mental health professionals.

THERAPlatform Free therapy worksheets, tools, e-books, videos, and handouts for mental health workers of all kinds.

ThinkCBT | Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Resources CBT resources, tools, and worksheets that can be downloaded and used free of charge by clinicians and members of the public.

Tim’s Resource Notebook A small collection of handouts on various topics such as relationships, emotions, and values.

TPT (teacherspayteachers.com) | Teaching Resources & Lesson Plans Worksheets, games, lesson plans, and more on a variety of topics. To access free resources, click the “free” box to filter and search.

Trauma Research & Treatment | Trauma Toolkit A small collection of handouts for trauma.

University at Buffalo School of Social Work | Self-Care Starter Kit℠ Handouts and more on self-care topics.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Center | Integrated Health & Mental Health Care Tools Downloadable resources for health and wellness from UIC Center.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Center | Self-Directed Recovery Workbooks, booklets, assessments, and more for self-determination and self-directed recovery.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs The VA offers a variety of different resources for Veterans, including free therapy worksheets, educational handouts, assessment tools, workbooks, manuals, and more. Several pages featuring free materials are linked to below:

Utah Education Network | Prevention Dimensions: Lesson Plans Downloadable lesson plans and handouts on self-esteem, conflict resolutions, stress, and more for children from kindergarten to sixth grade.

Veronica Walsh’s CBT Blog | Free Downloadable Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Worksheets/Handouts Print/use these free therapy worksheets only with the blog author’s permission.

Winona State University | Resilience Toolkit Reflections, exercises, videos, and other materials for developing the ability to bounce back in the face of stressful situations and inevitable setbacks.

Wellbeing Services | Worksheets 72 free therapy worksheets from Wellbeing Services of South Glasgow.

The Wellness Society | Therapy Resources & Coaching Tools A modest collection of free wellness tools. Alternatively, the entire Mental Wellbeing Toolkit can be purchased for $37.

Wisconsin Hawthorn Project | Handouts & Worksheets Handouts and free therapy worksheets for trauma in English and Spanish.

Yale School of Medicine | Spiritual Self-Schema Development Worksheets Free therapy worksheets to help individuals discover their spiritual path.

Your Life Your Voice from Boys Town | Tips & Tools Articles and PDF printables on a variety of mental health topics for teens and young adults.


Sites with Free Supplementary Materials

Please note that the materials linked to below are intended for use with the book (for book purchasers). They are not standalone tools or substitutes for the book.

ACT Mindfully | Psychology Tools & Free Resources A variety of free therapy worksheets and other resources to use with Russ Harris’ self-help books: The Happiness Trap, The Confidence Gap, The Reality Slap, and ACT With Love, as well as his textbooks: ACT Made Simple, Getting Unstuck In ACT, and ACT Questions and Answers.

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind | Jennifer Shannon, LMFT Click on any of the book tabs for free therapy worksheets and audio files.

Guilford | Psychology, Psychiatry, & Social Work To access supplementary materials on Guilford’s site, click on any publication. Some publications offer practical tools for download, sample chapters, and/or companion websites with free materials.

New Harbinger Publications, Inc. To access the tools on this site, create a free account. (Please note that not all publications come with supplementary materials, especially the older publications.)

Overcoming Mental Health Problems-Self-Help Guides The “Overcoming” books are available for purchase on Amazon or the publisher’s site; many come with free supplementary materials for download.

Oxford Clinical Psychology | Oxford Academic In general, this is not an open access site, but some of the book chapters, forms, and appendix materials are available for free.

PESI Publishing PESI supplementary materials are available only for book purchasers in the worksheet download center. Codes or website addresses are frequently found on the back page of a publication or in the introductory chapter.


Sites with Free Factsheets & Information Guides

AllinaHealth | Patient Education Guides A modest collection of factsheets and guides on health topics, including mental health and addiction.

Cleveland Clinic Health Library Health information and treatment guides that can be printed to PDF and saved.

Cornell Health | Fact Sheet Library A large collection of factsheets on various health topics.

HelpGuide.org All of the articles can be downloaded as PDFs and printed.

Mental Health Foundation | UK Free publications, guides, and reports.

Mind | A-Z Mental Health Topics A variety of topics, but only select guides are available in PDF format for easy download.

NHS Foundation Trust | Self-Help Leaflets These downloadable self-help leaflets are each between 25-40 pages, making them a more comprehensive resource than a typical factsheet. Topics include abuse, anger, sleeping problems, anxiety disorders, self-harm, and more.

NHS Inform | Self-Help Guides Self-help booklets on depression, anxiety, grief, PTSD, and more.

NIMH | Fact Sheets Mental health factsheets from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Nutrition.gov | Printable Materials & Handouts Resources for healthy eating.

Osher Center for Integrative Health | Clinician & Patient Education Wellness modules and handouts on self-care and professional care.

Patient | Mental Health | Depression, Anxiety, & Sleep Disorders A comprehensive directory of evidence-based clinical information.

PsychU | Resource Library Factsheets and free therapy worksheets on psychology topics.

University of Utah Health | OCIH Educational Materials Patient handouts on health topics in English and Spanish.

Verywell Mind All of Verywell Mind’s articles are print-friendly. They can also be saved as PDFs.


Clinical Practice Guidelines

The following guidelines can be found on American Psychological Association’s website:

This set of practice guidelines is from the American Psychiatric Association:

Lastly, SAMHSA publishes free practice guides (in additional to workbooks, manuals, pamphlets, etc.) which can be downloaded directly or ordered.


Do you support Mind Remake Project’s mission to provide free mental health resources? If so, consider sharing a link to a free resource in a comment or email me directly to recommend a site.

Guest Post: Technostress & Your Mental Wellbeing

Technology has become an essential part of our lives. We use smartphones and laptops on a daily basis to socialize, work, learn, and entertain ourselves. While technology may make our lives easier and more productive, it can also lead to “technostress,” a type of stress caused by technology.

Stress & Technology: Finding a Healthy Balance

This article will explore the causes and effects of technostress, and provide tips on how to manage it effectively and find a healthy balance with technology. It also includes two free printable handouts for healthy tech habits and stress management.

The Impact of Technology on Daily Life

Internet usage in the United States has grown significantly over the years, with the number of users increasing from 294.53 million in 2019 to 313.6 million in 2022. Over 90% of Americans have access to the Internet today. By 2028, it is estimated that there will be over 340 million Internet users in the US.

Technology has had a profound impact on our lives in terms of communication, information access, education, work, shopping, and entertainment. When used appropriately, technology makes our lives easier. Our smartphones can help us track emails, manage our bank accounts, access the news, and complete a wide range of other tasks.

Technology has revolutionized the way we do things and has become an essential part of our day-to-day activities. However, as a result, many of us are also experiencing technology-related stress.

Technostress: A Modern-Day Epidemic

The term technostress was coined in the 1980s by Craig Brod, an American psychologist, author of Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution. Brod originally defined technostress as a disease caused by the inability to cope with new technology.

With the advancement of technology and the invention of new devices, technostress has acquired a new meaning. It is now more broadly defined as any negative impact that the use of tech can have on a person. This can include stress caused by information overload, the constant feeling of needing to be connected, and the difficulty of keeping up with the latest technological advances.

A 2015 study found that Facebook users felt compelled to use the site frequently due to FOMO (fear of missing out) and to maintain their relationships. In 2017, research indicated that the overuse of cell phones led to technostress, with negative consequences for health, work, and personal wellbeing. And in 2019, researchers found that social media users continued to use social platforms despite experiencing technostress, exhibiting excessive and compulsive behaviors, the same way someone with an addiction continues to use despite negative consequences.

What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has normalized remote work, which has led to an increase in the use of tech devices at home. A 2022 research study indicated that during the enforced remote work period, the use of technology for both work and personal purposes resulted in technostress.

How to Tell If You’re Experiencing Technostress

Technostress can have a significant impact on a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional health. While the severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, common signs include:

  • Increased heartrate
  • Cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Eyestrain
  • Skin disorders (i.e., dermatitis, psoriasis)
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Changes in behavior

Technology-induced stress often coexits with other work-related problems, such as “workaholism” and burnout. It can also negatively impact work through decreased motivation and increased absenteeism. In its advanced stages, technostress can cause memory impairment.

Additionally, technostress can cause problems at home. In relationships, it can lead to conflict and disconnection because people with technostress may be irritable, withdrawn, and less likely to engage in social activities.

Technostress & the Importance of Balance

When is the last time you switched your cell phone to “off”? This “always on” culture and the overconsumption of digital media have led to problems such as Internet addiction and issues with work-life balance.

Think of the times when, instead of spending quality time with our loved ones or enjoying a well-deserved break, we’re glued to our phones, checking emails or scrolling mindlessly through our social media feeds. And with the shift to remote working, the line between work and life has blurred, giving our minds less time to rest.

Even kids and teens are significantly exposed to digital technology, which can lead to overstimulation and stress. This highlights the need for a healthy balance when using tech.

4 Strategies for Finding Balance in a Digital Age

To combat technology-induced stress and find a healthy balance, try these techniques: 

1. Digital Detox

Being exposed to too much information can be stressful, especially if you’re using your devices the majority of the time. Taking a break from technology for a few days can help reduce stress and provide other benefits, such as improved sleep and mental health.

Here are a few tips to help you take a break:

  • Identify what you want to detox from: This could be certain devices, apps, websites, or activities. For example, you might want to reduce your use of social media or stop playing games on your phone.
  • Schedule a time away from screens: This could be for a few days, weeks, or even just a few hours each day. If you can’t be away from your devices for work, try to set aside specific times when you won’t use them, such as during lunchtime, after work, and before bed.
  • Turn off notifications: Notifications from your smartphone can distract you from your work, personal time, or sleep. Turning them off can help you focus on other tasks or get the rest you need.
  • Limit app usage: If you find yourself checking certain apps too often and want to break the habit, use your phone’s settings to limit your usage time. 
  • Inform your family and friends: If you decide to do a digital detox, tell your family and friends beforehand so they know to contact you on your preferred channels.

2. Mindfulness & Relaxation Techniques

Many of us spend too much time scrolling mindlessly through our social media feeds, putting off other tasks for later. We do this for many reasons, including procrastination, FOMO, or lack of self-control.

Unfortunately, aimless scrolling can make us feel stressed and anxious, especially if we consume negative or distressing content. Additionally, scrolling for large amounts of time can lead to burnout. Instead, we can choose to be mindful of the media we consume. This means slowing down and being intentional about what we search for.

Young people who are affected by technostress can also utilize stress management techniques to improve their mood. If you have children and teens, ask them to practice these strategies on a regular basis to help center themselves.  

For example, if they are suffering from information overload, they can try guided imagery, a type of meditation where they visualize a peaceful place to calm their minds. They may also benefit from using stress management handouts and worksheets, such as the ones below, to learn how to manage and reduce stress.

Free PDF: 9 Stress Management Techniques
Free PDF: Healthy Tech Habits for Managing Stress

3. Time Management

If you find yourself overusing your devices every day, causing you to neglect other tasks, consider developing your time management skills. Here are some tips:

  • Identify your time usage: Track how much time you spend on each activity, including work, house chores, hobbies, rest, and technology use. You may find that you’re spending too much time on your devices.
  • Set boundaries between work and personal life: This means defining your work hours and reserving time for personal tasks, such as social media use. Avoid checking work emails or messages outside of work hours unless absolutely necessary.
  • Eat the frog: Prioritize the “frog,” the most important or challenging task on your to-do list. Completing this task first will help you avoid procrastination and free up your energy for other tasks.

4. Healthy Tech Habits

Establishing healthy tech habits can help you avoid technostress. You and your family will benefit from these; it’s a good idea to practice them often.

  • Identify tech-free zones: Designate certain areas in your home as “tech-free” spaces, such as the dinner table, bedroom, and bathroom.
  • Set aside technology-free time: Schedule tech-free activities throughout the week, such as playing sports, visiting the park, or spending time with family. This will help you reduce stress and prevent burnout.
  • Avoid bringing your phone to bed: Using your smartphone before bed can disrupt your sleep. Choose relaxing activities leading up to bedtime instead, such as taking a bath, journaling, or drinking lavender tea.

The Rewards of a Balanced Life

When we use technology wisely, it can benefit us in many ways, such as improving communication, providing easy access to information, making shopping convenient, enabling collaborative learning, and creating opportunities for remote work.

Finding a healthy balance when using technology can improve our quality of life and help us avoid physical and mental health problems, such as technology-induced stress. Additionally, being in control of our tech usage can help us achieve work-life balance, giving us more time for family, hobbies, relaxation, and self-care.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, technology is a powerful tool that can be used to enrich our lives and make them easier. However, it is important to use technology in a healthy and balanced way. The overconsumption of digital media can have negative consequences for our physical and mental health, as well as our relationships and work-life balance.

Finding a healthy balance with technology starts with being mindful of how we use our devices. By following the strategies in this article, we can develop a healthier relationship with technology and use it to enhance our lives, not detract from them. This way, we can enjoy the benefits of technology without letting it control us.

About the Author:

Michael is a licensed clinical social worker with a private therapy practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He specializes in helping children and teens with mental health concerns. He is passionate about providing effective and compassionate care. He is an advocate for mental health awareness, and is the founder of Mental Health Center Kids, a website that provides resources and support for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals who care for children and teens.

25 Helpful Examples of Dialectics

Examples of dialectics, two things that seem contradictory, but are both still true. A therapy tool for clinicians, includes free PDF download.

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 therapists to use in individual counseling sessions.

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

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

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

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 with 20 check-in ideas for counseling sessions:

20 Check-In Ideas for Therapy

check-in ideas

75 Helpful Anger Management Resources

Resources for anger management, including free printable worksheets and handouts

(Updated 9/22/22) 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

A resource list for grief and loss for mental health professionals and consumers

(Updated 9/22/22) 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.

75 Must-Read Books for Therapists

A list of over 75 must-read books (including workbooks and textbooks) for mental health professionals and self-help.

(Updated 11/18/23) This is a recommended list of 75+ “must-read” books for therapists and other mental health professionals.

The first section includes recommendations for both professionals and consumers. The next section includes suggested workbooks for therapy and/or self-help. The “Textbooks” section is comprised of required reading that I found valuable as a counseling grad student. In the “PracticePlanners Series” section, I included the planners I’ve relied on the most. The last section includes additional reads that have been helpful to me in both my professional and personal life.

For additional books and tools for therapists, see Resources for Mental Health Professionals and Group Therapy Resource Guide.

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

Must-Read Books for You & Your Clients

250 Brief, Creative and Practical Art Therapy Techniques: A Guide for Clinicians and Clients

Addictive Relationships: Why Love Goes Wrong in Recovery

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love

Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia: Helping Your Loved One Get the Most Out of Life

Drinking: A Love Story

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

How to Heal Depression

How to Survive the Loss of a Love

Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder, 2nd Edition

The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health

Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

Staying Sober Without God: The Practical 12 Steps to Long-Term Recovery from Alcoholism and Addictions

Surviving Schizophrenia, 7th Edition: A Family Manual


The Addictions Recovery Workbook: 101 Practical Exercises for Individuals and Groups

The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook: Changing Addictive Behaviors Using CBT, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing Techniques

The Addiction Recovery Workbook: Powerful Skills for Preventing Relapse Every Day

Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Workbook: Treatment Strategies for Cluster B Personality Disorders

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 7th Edition

The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution

The Attachment Theory Workbook: Powerful Tools to Promote Understanding, Increase Stability, and Build Lasting Relationships

Building Motivational Interviewing Skills, 2nd Edition: A Practitioner Workbook (Applications of Motivational Interviewing)

The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians

The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program

The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole

DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, 2nd Edition

DBT® Skills Training Manual, 2nd Edition

The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, 2nd Edition

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety: Breaking Free from Worry, Panic, PTSD, and Other Anxiety Symptoms

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for PTSD: Practical Exercises for Overcoming Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook

The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms, 3rd Edition

The Relationship Skills Workbook: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to a Thriving Relationship

The Self-Esteem Workbook, 2nd Edition

The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven, Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming Your Fear, 3rd Edition

The Wellness Lifestyle Workbook: Self-Assessments, Exercises & Educational Handouts (Mental Health & Life Skills Workbook Series)

The Wellness Workbook: How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality, 3rd Edition

A Woman’s Addiction Workbook: Your Guide to In-Depth Healing


Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Community and Agency Settings, 5th Edition

Exercises in the Art of Helping, 3rd Edition

Family Therapy: An Overview, 9th Edition

Foundations of Addictions Counseling, 4th Edition

Learning the Art of Helping: Building Blocks and Techniques, 7th Edition

Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 10th Edition

The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, 6th Edition

PracticePlanners Series

The Addiction Treatment Planner, 6th Edition

Addiction Treatment Homework Planner, 6th Edition

The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner, 6th Edition

Adult Psychotherapy Homework Planner, 6th Edition

The Complete Anxiety Treatment and Homework Planner

The Complete Depression Treatment and Homework Planner

The Couples Psychotherapy Treatment Planner with DSM-5 Updates

Couples Therapy Homework Planner, 2nd Edition

The Crisis Counseling and Traumatic Events Treatment Planner with DSM-5 Updates, 2nd Edition

The Family Therapy Treatment Planner with DSM-5 Updates, 2nd Edition

The Personality Disorders Treatment Planner: Includes DSM-5 Updates, 2nd Edition

The Severe and Persistent Mental Illness Treatment Planner, 2nd Edition

The Suicide and Homicide Risk Assessment and Prevention Treatment Planner

Additional Reading

86 TIPS (Treatment Ideas & Practical Strategies) for the Therapeutic Toolbox

127 More Amazing Tips and Tools for the Therapeutic Toolbox

103 Group Activities and Treatment Ideas and Practical Strategies

150 More Group Therapy Activities and TIPS

100 Interactive Activities for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery

101 Trauma-Informed Interventions: Activities, Exercises and Assignments to Move the Client and Therapy Forward

Attachment: 60 Trauma-Informed Assessment and Treatment Interventions Across the Lifespan

Diagnosis Made Easier: Principles and Techniques for Mental Health Clinicians, 3rd Edition

Encyclopedia of Counseling: Master Review and Tutorial for the National Counselor Examination, State Counseling Exams, and the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination, 4th Edition

Essential Assessment Skills for Couple and Family Therapists

Essentials of Clinical Supervision

Group Exercises for Addiction Counseling

Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change (Applications of Motivational Interviewing), 4th Edition

Motivational Interviewing and CBT: Combining Strategies for Maximum Effectiveness (Applications of Motivational Interviewing)

The Therapeutic “Aha!”: 10 Strategies for Getting Your Clients Unstuck

Trauma Treatment Toolbox: 165 Brain-Changing Tips, Tools and Handouts to Move Therapy Forward

must-read books

Group Therapy: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

A comprehensive group therapy resource guide with recommended books, topic ideas, group activities, practical tips, and more.

(Updated 1/22/22) 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? (That last one 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.”


(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 to 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

A list of movies about mental health and substance abuse with printable discussion handouts

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