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Group Therapy Activities for Depression

author image Michelle Bolyn
Michelle Bolyn is a licensed mental health professional and has worked since 2006 as a therapist. Bolyn has been writing mental health, wedding-related and relationship focused articles since 2007. She is published on Suite101.com and Examiner.com. Bolyn received her master's degree in social work from New York University.
Group Therapy Activities for Depression
Depressed man with hand on his head Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Joining a support group or attending group therapy can help clients cope with depression. It’s important that people who suffer from depression continue to cultivate relationships, because many teens and adults with this disorder tend to isolate themselves, making the symptoms worse. Many group activities can help the group members reduce their symptoms of depression.

Healthy Habits

It’s extremely important that people who suffer from depression try to maintain healthy habits. This can be hard to do when you’re feeling hopeless, sad and fatigued, but eating healthfully, getting eight hours of sleep and exercising can significantly impact your mood and lower depression. Therapists can lead many activities promoting healthy habits. One activity is asking each member to focus on incorporating one of the healthy habits the group has been discussing during the following week. When the group meets again, the therapist could engage the members in discussion about their assignment, asking questions regarding the difficulty of the assignment, if group members completed the assignment and if it affected their mood.

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Coping with Stress

Many people who suffer from depression don’t cope with stress in healthy ways. It doesn’t matter whether the therapist is leading a group of teens or adults; this activity can work with almost any age group. Split the group into smaller groups of two to four members each, and give each mini group a poster board and marker. Have the group nominate one person to write and one person to present. Then have the mini groups discuss healthy ways they can cope with stress. Encourage each group to list at least 10 coping mechanisms. If you’re working children or teens, you should give them a few examples. Tell them two ways that you cope with stress, such as walking with your spouse after dinner and meditating. After the group has had sufficient time to brainstorm, have the presenters share their lists.

Setting Goals

When a person is depressed, most tasks seem overwhelming. It’s important for children, teens and adults struggling with depression to learn how to set small, specific goals. The therapist leading the group should educate the group members on how they can set measurable goals. End each session by giving each group member a piece of paper and pen and asking them to set one small, measurable goal for that week. Collect the papers, and then hand them out at the beginning of the next group session. Some weeks you could ask members to share their goals and tell the group if they met them. The practice of setting small goals will help the group members set and achieve goals for themselves when the group is over.

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