4 Things to Do in the First Group Counseling Session

The first group counseling session always feels like a whirlwind to me! But there are 3 activities that I always plan for the first session to make sure we start on the right foot. Check out these group counseling first session must-dos: group counseling get to know you activities, norms, and more!

Looking for must-do first session group counseling activities? These group counseling get to know you activities will get you started.

Group Counseling Get to Know You Activities and Other First Session Must-Dos

1. Ice Breaker

I always want students to feel comfortable from the start. Icebreakers help kids get to know each other and let go of some of those first-session jitters. Some of my favorite ice breakers include roll and respond, card deck draws, or candy responses! Assign a prompt, question, or action to a number, card, card suit, or candy color. Students will draw or roll one and then respond to the prompt to get to know each other. These can be simple and silly or group topic-focused! Find more of my favorite group counseling ice breakers here.

Looking for must-do first session group counseling activities? These group counseling get to know you activities will get you started.

2. Set Norms

After breaking the ice, it’s important to set norms for the group. I want students to know how they are expected to engage with and treat one another. This is a student-led process. Students identify things they should do when engaging with others in the group like

  • listen while others are speaking
  • keep what is said in group private
  • treat others with kindness and respect

These group norms can be revisited at the beginning of future sessions as needed.

3. Review Limits of Confidentiality

At the outset of any new counseling relationship, it’s always important to review the limits of confidentiality. Even if you’ve reviewed this with students during classroom guidance lessons or individual sessions, it’s always a good idea to review it again in the first group session.

4. Psychoeducation

Finally, I like to end my groups with a little bit of psychoeducation about the group topic. If it’s a worry group, I might address what worry is using a smoke alarm analogy. If it’s an anger group, I might give students a preview of what we’ll learn in group using a “stop, drop, and roll” analogy. This is a time for me to give students an idea of what to expect by giving them a bite-sized piece of information about the group topic.

Looking for must-do first session group counseling activities? These group counseling get to know you activities will get you started.

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Looking for must-do first session group counseling activities? These group counseling get to know you activities will get you started.

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