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What Strategies Or Props Do You Use To Stimulate Attendance And Conversation In OT Mental Health Groups?

Anne MacRae, PhD, OTR/L, BCMH, FAOTA

December 12, 2016



What strategies or props do you use to stimulate attendance and conversation in OT mental health groups?


That is a really good point. I think buddy systems work really well. If you can get people who are already in your group to buddy up with someone who is reticent to attend and can kind of be their partner for the day, that really helps. It also helps not to have any distractions. Why are people not motivated to come? Remember I said one of my pet peeves is televisions? If it is a little too easy for them to be a couch potato, then it may be hard to get them there. One of the things we did at the wellness center, and this may seem a little harsh, but I do believe it was the right therapeutic thing to do, is say, "No one can force you to go into that room and go to the group, but when we are having groups, even though they are in other rooms, the television is off." Find out what is distracting them.

Yes, I use props all the time, which is why I like the talking stick. I think that is part of the OT orientation. Things that people can manipulate and handle. One you may or may not know is called the web of life. You have a ball of yarn and you have people stand in a circle. You hold into the yarn and throw the ball when you ask a question or make introductions. With these throws, you make a spiderweb pattern each time someone throws it to another person. Another example is using an artifact to enhance a group.

anne macrae

Anne MacRae, PhD, OTR/L, BCMH, FAOTA

Dr. MacRae is a professor emerita from San Jose State University in California. She supervised the campus-based psychosocial occupational therapy clinic for 20 years, and co-authored the premier occupational text, Psychosocial Occupational Therapy: An Evolving Practice, with Dr. Cara. Dr. MacRae also recently worked for Trinity County Behavioral Health Service and Wellness Centers as an occupational therapist and consultant. She is currently a consultant for the California Institute of Behavioral Health Services (CIBHS). Dr. MacRae is a recipient of multiple Fulbright Fellowships and engages in international consultation about occupational therapy and mental health care. She helped develop the University of Malta’s Occupational Therapy degree program, and worked with Malta’s Ministry of Health to improve services for people with mental illness.

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