In this brief guide, we will look at some great family therapy activities to improve communication, as well as other types of techniques and activities for various issues like communication in family or couples.
Family Therapy Activities to Improve Communication
Family therapy activities to improve communication often involve activities that get the family members to talk to each other and express things they don’t normally express in their day-to-day lives.
Family therapy activities are fun to do and they are suggested on the basis of what the different members of the family like, rather than just the preference of one or two of the family members, which in itself teaches the family that they have more in common than they may think.
If multiple members of the family are skeptical about the family therapy activities then that is something else they may be able to work through together and it might improve their communication styles.
Family therapy or family counseling is a form of intervention or treatment that helps address specific issues that may affect the health and functioning of a family and that of its members individually, or in cases where one family member is suffering from a significant problem, it allows the family to be able to deal with things in a better manner.
Family therapy may thus be used to help a family through a difficult period, a major transition, or mental or behavioral health problems in family members and as prominent family therapist Dr. Michael Herkov explains, “family therapy views individuals’ problems in the context of the larger unit: the family, and the assumption of this type of therapy is that problems cannot be successfully addressed or solved without understanding the dynamics of the group.”
Discussed across the next few sections are some of the best family therapy activities to improve communication and provide better ways of dealing with conflict.
Family Therapy Activity to Improve Communication: What if?
In this activity, the goal is to allow the family to just sit and relax together and it is done in the form of a simple game because it allows the family to improve how they communicate with one another as they laugh about silly things together and use their imagination in a fun and constructive way.
For this family therapy activity to improve communication, the group may need some strips of paper, a pencil or pen for each family member, and two bowls, and to start the activity, all the family members need to write with for each family member on two slips each.
On the first slip, each family member needs to write a question that is instinctual to them and and off the top of his or her head; it can be silly, serious, or anywhere in between.
The questions are all put together in one of the bowls once everyone is done and they are mixed up together.
On the second slip of paper, each family member writes an answer to the question they came up with for the first slip and these are put together in the second bowl, and mix. Place these slips in the second bowl and mix them up.
Each bowl is then passed around the room and each family member takes one question slip and one answer slip each.
Each family member then reads the question they have on their slip and the answer that they have in their hand and the family may find that the questions and answers might fit well together or they may result in absurd combinations that may at times be quite hilarious, and therefore this activity can act like a nice icebreaker in a therapy session, especially if the family is feeling awkward and the idea of engaging in a session.
The game may also be continued with two more slips of blank paper and while it may take a few rounds for everyone to get the hang of the game, generally the family members will get more comfortable with the game and enjoy it more as they go along.
After a couple of rounds of the game have been completed, the following questions may be asked of the family to to guide their discussion further:
- Did the activity spark their imagination?
- Why do they feel the questions and answers got funnier after several rounds?
The goal is to teach the family two things, first is that they will learn that laughter may be the key to many communication standstills, and it can really get things moving along and get everyone comfortable with themselves, and second, that even though they may have different approaches to things they can still come together and create concepts that eventually gel together in some way.
A variation of this activity may improve settling on a topic before the activity is started and having the family use that particular topic only for the questions and answers.
Family Therapy Activity To Improve Communication: Expressing Individuality
The fact that such different individuals can make up a single family shows that even though people may share different values, norms, and beliefs, that doesn’t mean that they can’t things the same way and even though it can be hard for some family members to communicate their thoughts and feelings, there are still ways to do that.
Many times the idea of improving communication in a family merely involves making all the family members feel like the family is a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts and feelings, and this is where this activity, known as “Expressing Individuality” comes in handy.
This activity may go a long way in showing all the members that they are a valuable part of the family and that their unique perspectives are always welcome.
The Expressing individuality activity may take about an hour and it may be a good idea to keep this activity for one entire session, so that one has some time to discuss the activity with the family after it has been completed, as well.
This activity involves working with a dough that may take about 15 minutes to make and then the activity may be about 45 minutes long.
For reusable play dough, mix together:
- ½ cup salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water (add food coloring to water if you want colored clay)
- 1 tablespoon oil
Once the ingredients have been mixed they are put over the low heat and stirred slowly and when the dough comes together to form a small ball, it needs to be removed from the heat and kneaded while still warm, and then it may be kept in a sealed container.
This activity can also allow for the baking of the subsequent designs and for this the dough needs:
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup salt
- ½ cup water
- Food coloring (if desired, and you can also paint the figures after you bake them)
You may follow the same method as for the previous dough.
Once you have the dough ready, you need to give the dough to each member of the family, and they need to use their creativity and imagination to create a design or structure that represents who they are as an individual.
You need to remind them that their personal characteristics are important and that the figures need to represent that, and these may be anything from a goal, a hobby, an accomplishment, or a value that is personally meaningful to that individual.
- If you love Boy Scouts, you can try to make an image of a person sitting on a log by a campfire.
- If you were “Employee of the Month,” you can make the image of something that represents hard work, or even something that looks like an award.
- If the family member is very friendly , they could make a face with a big smile.
- A family member that loves animals a lot may make a dog or cat, and soon.
Once the unique designs have been completed, they may be preserved by baking them on a cookie sheet for several hours until they are hard, and if no colors were used in the clay to begin with, the family member that made a particular figure may also paint it.
Once the activity is done and everyone has their figures, the following questions need to be asked, and they may be used to discuss the personal characteristics that the family member has chosen to depict in the figure.
- Why did someone choose to make what they did?
- What does it mean to them?
If the making of clay shapes does not appeal to the family, they may also try to make something with cuttings out of newspapers or magazines, or even just draw something on paper, and discuss that.
As a family therapist, you need to facilitate the discussion among the family about the personal characteristic that each member has displayed, and you can even try to get the opinion of other members on that particular characteristic, which may remove a lot of gap between what the family knows and thinks of each other.
Couple Therapy Activity for Communication: Copycat
This is a great game to improve communication in a couple, and it involves a few simple steps.
Copycat is a goal directed activity, and the couple needs to communicate to achieve a common goal, which works like this:
The couple needs to sit back to back and have an identical set of building blocks in front of each of them.
One partner uses the blocks in front of them to make a building or structure of some sort.
The partner who built the structure then has to relay a series of instructions to the other person so that they may be able to build the same structure but without seeing it at all, or having any idea of what it might be.
The builder partner’s instructions are all that the listener partner gets to build the structure which means that there is teamwork and good communication involved, which are the point of the exercise.
In this brief guide, we looked at some great family therapy activities to improve communication, as well as other types of techniques and activities for various issues like communication in family or couples.
Communication is one of the most important facets of any relationship, and healthy levels of communication can ensure healthy relationships in most cases.
Family therapy may often focus on bringing about effective and frequent communication between members so that they may be able to talk about their issues within therapy and without just as easily, and so that the individual members of the family may find things easier to deal with among themselves.
If you have any more questions or comments about family therapy activities to improve communication, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
You may also want to check out these Art therapy activities if you have young kids.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Family Therapy Activities to Improve Communication
What are the techniques used in family therapy?
Here are some of the techniques used in family therapy include some of the following:
What is family communication?
Family communication refers to the exchange of both verbal and non-verbal information between family members, and one of the main features of effective family communication is that it may enable the members of a family to express their needs, wants, and concerns to each other in a healthy, open and honest way.
What are the 3 goals of family therapy?
The 3 goals of family therapy are to improve communication, solve family problems together, understand and handle special family situations, and create a better functioning home environment.