Theme: Cultivating Joy

Kid/Teen Strategy of the Week:

Cup of Joy: Reflecting on ways to add joy to one’s cup of daily living can be a way to cultivate resilience in the midst of stress. Have the kid/teen use a printed version of the image below, or draw out a sketch of the cup on the Zoom Whiteboard or sheet of paper.

o Talk about the stressors or triggers that fill up the client’s cup throughout their day: maybe it’s feeling hungry, not getting to do a preferred activity, etc. As you talk about each stressor in a day, add a little water by coloring in the cup, little by little.
o Talk about what happens when the kid/teen’s cup feels too full of stressors and overflows. Do they scream/yell, cry, retreat/avoid, or get crabby/irritable?
o Next, talk about ways that they can empty their cup little by little during the day with joy. Work in enjoyable coping skills that the kid/teen already uses, or teach new ones. Using the drawing again, show how bringing joy to their cup throughout the day can keep them from overflowing.
o Talk about how full the client’s cup is today and if they feel like they need to empty it at all to feel better, then practice those coping strategies together.

Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist engaged the child in an art therapy activity (Cup Activity) to help them become more aware of their level of activation/emotion, and identify helpful coping strategies for when they feel overwhelmed. The client (engaged/did not engage) in the activity and reported it was (helpful/interesting/boring).

Adult Strategy of the Week

Practicing Joy: Finding ways to cultivate joy in one’s life, daily, weekly, monthly, can help to foster a sense of hope, resilience, and momentum. The experience of a positive emotion such as joy may also decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength. In a session, explore various ways the client has and can cultivate joy, such as:

1. Bring to mind a joyful memory
2. Find a way to be of service
3. Practice gratitude
4. Live their truth
5. Engage self-compassion

Source: https://chopra.com/articles/5-ways-to-cultivate-more-joy-in-your-life

Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist explored ways of cultivating the experience of joy each day/week/month to build resilience in the midst of stress. Client reported that identifying ways to foster joy (seems helpful/seems challenging/etc), and they noted when, where, and how they may want to begin doing so.

Modality Strategy of the Week:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The CBT strategy of scheduling activities that are enjoyable helps clients to cultivate joy by experiencing moments of positive mood amid fatigue, stress, and sadness.
1. CBT Pleasant Activity Scheduling – in session, come up with one activity each week or day the client can do that may be enjoyable, such as:
o Monday: have a mindful moment
o Tuesday: laugh with a friend or family member
o Wednesday: watch a funny video, show, movie
o Thursday: tune into music
o Friday: go fishing or find a silly photo
o Saturday: savor a new food
o Sunday: re-read a favorite book or sing a song
2. Then, have clients log/rate how they are feeling after engaging in the activity.

Source: Pleasant-Activity-Scheduling-Worksheet.pdf (positivepsychology.com)

Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist provided psychoeducation about CBT pleasant activity scheduling and engaged the Ct in an activity of identifying enjoyable activities to do each day in the next week. The client reported that was (helpful/not helpful/painful/etc) to identify things that bring joy.

Mindfulness/Meditation of the Week: 

Joy-ful Meditation: Incorporating joy to meditation can foster a sense of internal uplift!

• Script: Here is a practice for cultivating joy that you can use anytime and anywhere. You can do the entire practice in just eight breaths, or you can spend a few minutes on each exercise before moving on. Each breath has a single word to help you remember how to focus your attention.

1. With the first breath, bring your awareness to the sensation of your breathing. Pay close attention to the physical sensation of your breath as it moves in and out. Follow your in-breath and out-breath from the beginning to the end. The word to say to yourself during this breath is breath.

2. With the second breath, bring your attention to all of the sensations in your entire body. Allow your awareness to completely fill your body, and notice what you find. Some sensations will be pleasant, some unpleasant, and some neutral. See if you can allow yourself to feel these sensations without trying to change them at all. Pay special attention to any tension, heaviness, or agitation. The word for this breath is body.

3. With the third breath, actively release all of the tension, heaviness, and agitation in your body. You can imagine that it is being washed out of you with your out breath. The word for this breath is release.

4. With the fourth breath, say to yourself “May you have ease and lightness of body and mind.” See if you can say this with your heart filled with love and generosity toward yourself. You are wishing yourself well, and sending compassion to your body and mind. The word for this breath is love.

5. With the fifth breath, notice if there are any cravings or aversions present in you. Is there any part of you that wants reality to be different than it is right now? Is there any way that you are not accepting or fighting against things-as-they-are? Just notice any cravings or aversions and let yourself feel them without trying to make them go away. They are not your enemy. They may be a part of you that needs love and caring. The word for this breath is cravings.

6. With the sixth breath, become aware that everything you need to be joyful is already present in this moment. All of the conditions that are needed for peace and joy are already here. In every moment of life, there are infinite reasons to suffer and infinite reasons to be joyful. Let’s put our attention to the positive conditions that are available in this moment. Problems do exist, but they are not all that exists. For this one breath, focus on everything in life that is meaningful. We are no longer regretting the past or worrying about the future. We are here and present to the joys of life. The word for this breath is letting go.

7. With the seventh breath, become aware that you are alive. As you breathe, feel the energy of life moving through you. With this breath, we recognize the miracle of being alive. We become fully awake to the experience of being alive in the present moment, and we see what a precious thing this is. If you had just a few minutes to live, it would be so clear that 24 hours of life is incredibly precious. The word for this breath is alive.

8. With the eighth breath, become aware of all of the beauty within and around you. As soon as we let go of our desires and wake up to the present moment, we see that reality itself is indescribably beautiful. All of our senses—our sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mental perception—deliver this beauty to us like a precious gift. All we have to do is enjoy. The word for this breath is beauty.

• So we can practice the eight breaths to joy like this:
o Breath (In/out)
o Body (In/out)
o Release (In/out)
o Love (In/out)
o Craving (In/out)
o Letting go (In/out)
o Alive (In/out)
o Beauty (In/out)

Source: https://www.mindful.org/8-breaths-to-joy-a-guided-practice/

Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led a meditation activity around cultivating joy. Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the activity was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).

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