Growth Mindset: Clearing the clutter of negative self-talk in one’s mind early on can help support building a stronger sense of ability and self-esteem in kids and teens. This activity is focused on transitioning talk that is self-critical to growth narratives to promote resiliency in kids.
Start by clearing out (identifying/naming) self-critical talk.
For example, a thought that they are not smart enough or that they made a mistake.
Then, explore how their brain is growing every time they use it for something they are learning and they are “working out” their brain to be able to do something harder in the future.
Once you clear out some of the clutter, explain that now there is more space in the brain to plant positive self-talk to help them grow!
Come up with strengths or things they are doing well that they can add as seeds to their mind. It can be helpful to think of how far they have grown in the past year(s).
Lastly, work together to think of things they can do to help their mind grow (e.g. taking breaks, being outside, doing jumping jacks, taking deep breaths to send oxygen to the brain, saying growth mantras, etc.).
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was (tailor based on treatment plan). The therapist engaged the client in a growth mindset activity to reduce negative self-talk and promote resiliency. The client responded to the activity by (fill in the blank).
Adult strategy of the week:
Finding Your Compassionate Voice: When clearing literal and emotional clutter in our lives, we can sometimes come across the compassionate voice within ourselves. This writing activity helps us make space to discover and develop a narrative of compassion from within.
Start by clearing space by writing down something that brings about the feeling of inadequate (e.g. at work, with appearance, in a relationship, etc.) and express in writing, without judgement, the emotions that come along with this.
Bring to mind a friend that is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind, and compassionate. Imagine this friend seeing all of your strengths, along with the source of inadequacy you just wrote about.
Then write how this friend would respond to this, with love and understanding; what they would remind you of in terms of your strengths and value; as well as what they may suggest to you in terms of self-kindness or forgiveness; and how they would express their wish for your health and wellness.
Come back to this letter from the friend and read often, allowing the voice of compassion to fill up the space in your mind.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist engaged the Ct in a reflection activity to support them in developing a voice of self-compassion. The client reported that it was (helpful/not helpful/painful/etc.) to practice self-compassion in this way.
Depression strategy of the week:
Clearing Space for Kindness: Often when feeling depressed much of the space in one’s mind is filled with critical self-narratives. This is natural and can be draining to our internal resources. Fostering space for kindness in the mind has been shown to build up our resources of ability, esteem, and worth. Below are three steps to evolving self-critical talk towards resilience.
Step One: Notice and take note of the critical words, phrases, and tone of voice used with yourself.
Step Two: Talk back with compassion, by acknowledging this critical voice and expressing understanding of the emotions that come with (e.g. anxiety, sadness, guilt); then ask this voice to allow the compassionate voice to speak for a few minutes.
Step Three: Reframe the critical words/phrases with compassion, responding to yourself as you may to a dear friend.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist supported the client with identifying their self-critical voice and expressing self-compassion. The client reported that it was (helpful/not helpful/etc.) to practice self-compassion and was able to identify (one/a couple/several) ways to identify and reframe their self-critical voice outside of session.
Mindfulness/Meditation of the week:
Spring Cleaning the Mind: This meditation practice guides one to identifying thoughts, beliefs, expectations that are cluttering the mind and bringing in fresh ideas to build resilience for the Spring season and beyond.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led Ct. in a mindfulness activity around clearing self-critical thinking and identifying self-encouraging narratives. Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the meditation was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).
Sit comfortably in an upright position, either in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the ground, or on a cushion.
Close your eyes and begin to take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Next, bring to mind any thoughts, ideas, or beliefs that have become stagnant, non-serving, or irrelevant.
One by one, or all at once, see if you can connect to what their original purpose was. Do they have a reason for still existing? Is there something further to explore or is the energy ready to be dissolved and returned to its purest form?
When you come to the realization that it’s time to let go of mind clutter—much in the same way you would give away an old jacket that you never wear anymore—thank it for having served its purpose and take in any learning or wisdom it has to impart.
Next, imagine seeing it dissolve like a morning layer of fog as the sun shines through, or visualize erasing it from a chalkboard to reveal a fresh, clean slate.
Once you’ve cleared away that which no longer needs to occupy your mind, spend some time connecting to the open space you have created in your internal world. The space that you’ve cultivated doesn’t mean the mind is now empty. Rather, see it as being filled with the element of space, which represents pure potentiality.
Next, invite in a new thought or belief in the form of an intention for something you would like to manifest in the coming days, weeks, or months. Perhaps there is an old idea that you want to take off the shelf, dust off a bit, and revisit—maybe it’s finally writing that book or starting the project that’s been in the back of your mind for years.
Bring your new intention to the forefront of your mind and imagine planting it like a seed in the soil of your soul and then ask the Universe (or a Higher Power) to facilitate the fulfillment of this in the future.
Then, let go of the intention—trusting that the details will work out —and take a few slow, deep breaths before opening your eyes.
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