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25 Group Therapy Activities for Individuals with Self-Esteem Issues

If you were to search for a definition of self-esteem, you will find various descriptions of what self-esteem is. Generally speaking, self-esteem refers to how an individual views themselves. Self-esteem can be impacted by a person’s mental health, environment, and personal history.

Every one of us has different factors that contribute to our self-esteem. Self-esteem is often tied to a person’s values, personal goals, fears, worries, and insecurities.  As an example, if a person values their family, their self-esteem can be impacted by how they feel in their roles as a child, sibling, partner, and parent.  Additionally, if someone has struggled with an eating disorder, their self-esteem will likely be tied to their physical appearance and other factors that contributed to their mental health struggles.

Our self-esteem can impact a variety of mental health concerns including anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and body image concerns. Individuals who struggle with low self-esteem may find themselves isolating and withdrawing from family and friends, and struggling with negative self-talk. In this post, I discuss 25 group therapy activities for individuals with self-esteem issues.

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How Does Group Therapy Help Individuals with Self-Esteem Issues?

Group therapy can provide a safe, supportive, and educational environment for individuals who struggle with their self-esteem. Group therapy can help individuals see that they are not alone in their struggles and that there are others who can relate to their struggles. Group members can have an opportunity to practice skills, such as communication and boundary-setting skills, that have been impacted by their low self-esteem.

Self-esteem activities for group therapy can provide an opportunity to use skills that were introduced in the group. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy can be an effective therapeutic approach for clients who struggle with their self-esteem, so Counselors can use activities that utilize the information provided.

List of 25 Group Therapy Activities for Clients with Self-Esteem Issues

When Counselors are looking for self-esteem group therapy activities, it is important to take your group members into consideration. Modifying the group activities for self-esteem that you find can make them more impactful by addressing concerns that you know group members struggle with.

Here are 25 examples of group therapy activities for individuals with self-esteem issues:

  1. Spend time discussing the role that our thoughts have on our feelings and behaviors. Ask your group members to identify thoughts they have that impact their self-esteem in a positive and negative way.
  2. Spend time talking about the use of thought challenges for cognitive distortions. As group members identify a cognitive distortion that they struggle with, and walk through a thought challenge they could use. Encourage the group to practice their thought challenges before their next session.
  3. Provide an understanding of self-care; self-care is often associated with occasional behaviors such as a spa day, compared to regular behaviors such as a daily walk. Ask the group to identify one or two behaviors that they could add to their routine to promote self-care. Be sure to note that self-care does not require spending money.
  4. Spend time talking about the importance of having both long-term and short-term goals. Ask the group to identify goals that they have, and what behaviors support or work towards accomplishing their goals.
  5. Spend time talking about the importance of emotional and physical boundaries. Allow group members to split into pairs to practice boundary-setting skills in a role-playing exercise.
  6. Spend time talking about healthy communication patterns. Allow group members to split into pairs to practice the communication skills that were discussed in a role-playing exercise.
  7. Discuss the benefits of positive affirmations. Ask the group to identify two affirmations about themselves, and encourage them to recite their affirmations in front of a mirror. Process this experience in your next group session.
  8. Explore the benefits of journaling. Encourage group members to practice journaling exercises that focus on what they did well that day. This can include what they felt good about, accomplished goals, or the absence of negative or challenging behaviors (ie. Negative self-talk). Process their experience in the next group session.
  9. Ask group members to create a to-do list for themselves. What can they do to promote their own wellness? Review their lists and talk about how they can work these activities or behaviors into their routine.
  10. Provide the group with the materials needed to write a self-care check-up. Ask them to rate their current emotional health, physical health, spiritual health, social life, and professional satisfaction. Ask them to identify behaviors that can improve these areas of their life.
  11. Spend time talking about gratitude, and ask members to share what they are grateful for in their lives. Review how they can incorporate practicing gratitude into their routine.
  12. Talk about the benefits that using mindfulness practices regularly can have on our mental health. Spend time reviewing various mindfulness skills, such as deep breathing, and allow time to practice these skills.
  13. Spend time talking about the benefits of meditation, and the different kinds of meditation. Allow time to practice different forms of meditation, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery. Spend time reviewing group members’ experiences and if they see any benefit to meditating on their own.
  14. Ask the group members to write down 2-3 emotions that they have a hard time sitting with and/or coping with on a slip of paper. Write the provided emotions on a larger piece of paper that the group can see. Ask the group as a whole to talk about what coping skills have worked for them, and what has not. Allow the group to help each other with their own experiences.
  15. Begin your group by asking members what signs and symptoms they experience when they are getting a cold or a virus, followed by what they do to take care of themselves. Ask the group if any of them follow a similar course of action on the days that they struggle with their mental health. Are there any barriers that they experience when it comes to taking care of their mental health needs
  16. Ask the group to write down something unique or special that they do not think others know about them. Have the group try to figure out to whom the detail belongs.
  17. Provide the group with the utensils needed to make a T-chart. Under the left column, ask the group to write down negative thoughts they experience. On the right side, have them identify a positive affirmation that counteracts their identified negative thought.
  18. Provide the group with materials needed to write down 5 compliments about themselves. Ask members to share their compliments with the other group who can provide support.
  19. Ask the group to write a letter to themselves. This could be a younger version of themselves, a current version of themselves, or a future version of themselves. If the group members are comfortable sharing their letters, allow them time to do so. Spend time exploring what they felt was important to include and draw connections between group members.
  20. Provide the group with a list of positive affirmations. Ask them to identify 3 affirmations they can use daily. Talk about the benefits of reviewing these in the morning before they begin their day, and in the evenings before they go to bed.
  21. Provide your group with a variety of magazines, glue, paper, and writing utensils. Ask the group to make a collage of self-care activities that address their emotional needs, spiritual needs, mental health needs, and their physical needs.
  22. Spend time reviewing traits that supportive individuals have. Spend time exploring how group members can build their social support, or increase the time they spend with their current supporters.
  23. Ask the group to identify their experiences with negative self-talk, and how this impacts their feelings. Explore situations that occur before their negative self-talk begins, and see if there are any common triggers for their negative self-talk.
  24. Provide the group with magazines, paper, glue, and other materials needed to make a vision board. Encourage the group to include pictures that remind them of their goals, depict behaviors that work towards their goals, or demonstrate their motivation for their goals. Allow time to review as a group, and encourage members to take their vision board home and place it in a spot where they will see it daily.
  25. Spend time talking about the different types of self-esteem (inflated, high, and low), and how self-esteem can impact our mental health. This can include increased feelings of anxiety, stress, irritability, unhealthy eating behaviors, poor communication, substance misuse and abuse, and social difficulties (ie. Isolation). 

Final Thoughts on Selecting Group Therapy Activities for Your Clients with Self-Esteem Issues

Self-esteem group therapy activities for adults can have a lasting impact on our group members’ mental health and well-being. Group activities can be used for educational purposes as well as allowing group members to practice skills and behaviors that can improve their self-esteem.

Counselors who prefer to utilize written tools such as worksheets for adult therapy self-esteem group activities, and resources such as self-esteem worksheets can provide you with useful materials. TherapyByPro’s self-esteem worksheet bundle contains PDFs for 25 different worksheets that can each be used to guide group therapy sessions. Customizing group activities for your group members allows counselors to address common struggles, fears, and needs among group members. 

TherapyByPro is an online mental health directory that connects mental health pros with clients in need. If you’re a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates mental health professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our mental health forms, worksheet, and assessments here.

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Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC
Author: Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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