This guide has 50+ free resources for overcoming perfectionism including assessments, worksheets/handouts, workbooks, guides, videos, articles, and more.
Do you hold yourself or others to unrealistic standards and find yourself defeated or frustrated when those standards aren’t met? Are you sensitive to criticism and have a fear of making mistakes? Do you have a tendency to procrastinate? Are you driven by fear or have an intense fear of failure? If so, you may be a perfectionist. And it may be hindering you instead of helping.
(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!
(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.
Recommended Books for Grief & Loss
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)
Recommended Books for Children & Adolescents
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)
Recommended Books for Clinicians
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
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” 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 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.
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.
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.
Adverse Outcomes in Group Psychotherapy | Roback, H. B. (2000). Adverse outcomes in group psychotherapy: Risk factors, prevention, and research directions. The Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, 9(3), 113–122.
Differences that Make a Difference | Change-Caffaro, S., & Caffaro, J. (2018). Differences that make a difference: Diversity and the process group leader. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 00: 1-15.
Group Interventions| Ezhumalai, S., Muralidhar, D., Dhanasekarapandian, R., & Nikketha, B. S. (2018). Group interventions. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 60(Suppl 4), S514–S521.
Group Therapy for Substance Use Disorders | Wendt, D. C., & Gone, J. P. (2017). Group therapy for substance use disorders: A survey of clinician practices. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, 12(4), 243–259.
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.
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.
103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes), R-rating for language and drug use
Summary: Julia Roberts plays a mother, Holly, whose 19-year old son, Ben, surprises her by returning home for Christmas. Ben is newly in recovery; his addiction has placed a tremendous strain on the family in the past. Ben’s younger siblings are happy to see him, but Holly, fearing that he is not ready, is apprehensive.
That evening, the family attends church. When they return, they find their home burglarized and the dog missing. Ben blames himself, believing someone from his past took the dog to get his attention; he leaves to look for the dog. Holly goes with him, but they’re later separated, and Holly attempts to track Ben. Eventually, she ends up at an abandoned barn where she finds her son on the floor, unresponsive. The movie ends with her administering Narcan to Ben.
127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes), R-rating for strong language and content relating to drugs, sexuality, and suicide
Summary: Winona Ryder plays Susanna, a young woman with borderline personality disorder, who is sent to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt in the late 1960s. She befriends Lisa (Angelia Jolie), who carries a diagnosis of sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder). Initially, Susanna is in denial about her mental condition and is not open to treatment. However, she reaches a turning point after a tragedy.
123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes), PG-13 rating for mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language, and brief violence
Summary: Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) starts a chain reaction of goodness for a social studies project with a plan to change the world for the better. In this film, Trevor is a high school student whose mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt), struggles with alcoholism and whose father is abusive. He rises above unfortunate circumstances with the kindhearted idea to do a good deed, but instead of requesting payback, asking the receiver to “pay it forward” to at least three people – and on and on. While the movie has a bittersweet end, the message is uplifting and powerful.
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.
Other great resources for using clinical films as therapeutic interventions include the book Movies & Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathy, 4th ed. (by Danny Wedding and Ryan M. Niemiec) and the site Teach With Movies.
(Updated 10/16/22) 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.
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. Access additional free printables by joining Mind Remake Project’s Facebook group, Resources for Mental Health Counselors & Social Workers. 🆕
Stress Management – Patient Handouts | A collection of handouts on stress management; some of the other sections, including “General Health and Wellness” and “Nutrition” have links to handouts as well (Source: UMASS Medical School Department of Psychiatry)
Attitudes and Behaviour | 9-page PDF packet on criminal thinking (Source: Carleton University, Criminal Justice Decision Making Laboratory & Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services)
Motivation To Change | 16-page PDF packet on motivation to change criminal behavior (Source: Carleton University, Criminal Justice Decision Making Laboratory & Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services)
Peers & Relationships | 12-page PDF packet on how associates impact criminal behavior (Source: Carleton University, Criminal Justice Decision Making Laboratory & Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services)