Original article on pro.psychcentral.com
Help your clients “jump start” the new year with these five life skills tips!
Every year, millions of people make New Year resolutions, but it doesn’t take long for most of them to fizzle out. Without a plan and the right tools in place, it’s hard to keep up the momentum throughout the year. Here are five quick tips and tools to help your client learn and use practical life skills that can help them stay motivated!
- Help clients learn to let go of the grudges that weigh them down by practicing forgiveness. Use visualization to help them let them go of bitterness, and start the new year a bit lighter. For example, have them imagine putting their grudges and unforgiving thoughts in writing and putting each of them in a balloon – watching them disappear as they drift away as they let them go. Or have them imagine unpacking a suitcase filled with grudges, putting them neatly in drawers, and appreciate the new lightness of their old luggage. These visualizations will help them let go of their emotional baggage!
- Use quick quizzes such as How is Your Emotional Wellness? which highlights important therapeutic areas of emotional wellness. Have your clients take this quick quiz periodically throughout the year to determine if they are addressing these 8 areas of emotional wellness to boost their emotional wellness IQ.
- Offer your clients plenty of psychoeducational handouts and worksheets to remind them of important life skills that they can use again and again though the year. The more proactive your clients are, the more empowered they will be to improve their lives with the help of structured exercises and activities. Every session I make sure I assign some handout or worksheet to help my clients practice skills throughout the week, relevant to the session topics.
- Help your clients create a metaphorical toolkit of objects that symbolizes important therapeutic lessons and touchstones, to help ground them throughout the year. For example, keeping an eraser handy will remind your perfectionistic clients that it is okay to make mistakes. An elastic band around the wrist will remind them to correct their irrational thoughts by a snap on the wrist, motivating them to replace the negative thought with a more positive one. For clients with low self-esteem, using a stone from the ground or a polished “gem” from a craft store will offer support to stay grounded throughout the day, as well as remind them that they themselves are precious and important.
- Bring in coffee filters to remind your clients that they have the power to turn negatives in their lives into positives. On the bottom of a coffee filter, have them write a negative thought, such as “I’ll always be depressed” and on the top side of the coffee filter write a positive response, such as “I am not a fortune teller, and I can create my happiness.” Then have your client stand up, with the bottom side up, and let go. Together, watch the filter right itself up by the time it reaches the floor. The lesson: If you are patient, the positives always win out! This experiential activity will help your client make a fresh start for the new year by waking up and smelling the coffee!
All five examples are just a sampling of ways to help your clients develop active life skills that really make an impact, and help them make a fresh start in life every day, not only in the new year!