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What Are the Different Types of Family Therapy Activities?

A family on a walk.
Family therapy activities may include teamwork challenges.
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  • Written By: L. Baran
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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Family therapy is a type of psychological treatment that focuses on improving the relationships and communication between family units. There are a number of family therapy activities designed to help members deal with past trauma, disagreements and lack of positive interactions. Activities include games to learn more about each individual, teamwork challenges, counseling, role play and art therapy.

Many family therapists will use fun games to help family members learn more about each other, in the hopes that this will facilitate more mutual understanding and respect. These might include quizzes, true or false games, fill in the blank, and multiple choice questions. Answers focus on details about each individual's likes, dislikes, feelings and goals, and allow families to enjoy concentrating on the elements that make them similar and unique.

Teamwork challenges are popular family therapy activities because they encourage communication and problem solving. Challenges can be as simple as word problems or as complex as outdoor teamwork pursuits. Families can experience frustration, differences of opinion, and leadership challenges while under the guidance of a therapist who can act as a neutral party and facilitate open discussion.

Counseling is a more traditional type of therapy. Each family member is given time to talk and express his or her feelings in response to questions from the therapist. The communication is guided by the professional in order to prevent anger or frustration from escalating.

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Role play is one of the most commonly used family therapy activities. It allows family members to see how they are perceived by others in the family unit and highlights the major issues that prevent positive interactions. Role play also allows people to feel more comfortable saying things they might now be able to in a simple counseling session. For younger children, role play with puppets can also be a helpful tool to express more complex or difficult feelings.

One form of therapy that is particularly useful in families with younger children is art therapy. Often, children are able to express themselves through pictures more successfully than with words due to their limited vocabularies or their more advanced visual and perceptual skills. Children can also use their imaginations to express their desires and emotions through art. Small details including color, facial features and background can provide a significant amount of information about a child's internal emotions. Art may be one of the less popular family therapy activities for adults, but should be embraced as a means to include all family members in the communication process.

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