Posted in Group activities for low self esteem

Group Session for children dealing with low self esteem

The following six weeks programme is designed for clients aged 7 to 9 with low self esteem. The group compromises of 2 boys and 2 girls. The sessions take place weekly and last for 50 minutes. The programme is based on the premise the clients in the group have the following difficulties:

  • They have unrealistic expectations of themselves.
  • They find creativity difficult.
  • They have feelings of incompetence and worthlessness.
  • They have poor social skills.
  • They suffer from feelings of being frightened, scared, anxious or ambivalent.
  • They have difficulty making friends.
  • They have difficulty conceiving and reaching goals.

The overall aim of the sessions is to enable the clients to become more confident, more self assured and to have a more positive image about themselves.

Session 1:

Aim of session: Introduce the group to the process and help them operate as a group with the support of the therapist.

  1. Contract – As a group get the clients to come up with the boundaries for their group. This will help them feel part of the process and encourage them to operate more effectively as a group. There should not be more than five boundaries but they should include respect for themselves and others, confidentiality and punctuality. Put the rules on poster paper and get each one of the clients to sign it. If they wish the therapist can type them out and give each member of the group a copy the following week.
  1. Tell them why they are there. Invite the clients to talk about “what is self esteem?” Write the ideas on the poster paper. Things that could be included are:
    • knowing who you are,
    • What can you do?
    • What can’t you do?
    • Feeling good about yourself,
    • Being a good friend.
  1. Invite discussion about the things that contribute to low self esteem such as:
    • Listening,
    • Communicating,
    • Receiving positive messages,
    • Understanding that differences happen,
    • Accepting yourself,
    • Accepting others,
    • Learning about others.
  1. Get the clients to decide on the name for the group.
  1. Machines: The entire group works together. The therapist calls out the name of a machine and the group have to use their bodies to create that machine. Each person is a different part of the machine. Examples: photocopier, dishwasher, computer, bicycle, fridge, plane, coffee machine etc.., This will encourage co-operation, communication and help the group form.
  1. If I was…. In a circle get them to close their eyes and imagine they were a tree or flower.  Which one would they choose? What would they look like? How would they move? How would they feel?
  1. The clients draw a picture of how they would look as a flower or a tree.
  1. Ending RoutineRelaxation exercise – Be a STAR!The clients lie down on their backs and spread their arms and legs as far as they can go. They feel like they are making a four pointed star. They stretch as hard as they can and suddenly the star collapses.

Session 2:

Aim of session: Accepting difference within themselves, looking at expectations and accepting limitations.

  1. Starting routine: Weather chart- a large sheet is divided into four. Each section has a picture of a different weather situation such as the sun, rain, wind and a tranquil lake. An arrow is in the middle of the sheet. The clients point the arrow to the weather picture that best represents their feelings at that moment. (Other clients in the group could guess why a certain client is feeling that way).
  1. Guide dogs: Divide the group into pairs. One person in the pair closes their eyes and the other person who is their guide dog guides them around the room making sure she doesn’t bump into anything. They do not talk during this game. Reverse the process. This is a very useful trust exercise.
  1. Polarities – Give them a sheet of paper and on the paper are the following statements:

I am friendly

I am a bully

I am loveable

I am dull

I am lonely

I am wanted

I am hated

I am a failure

I am fun

I am winner

I am not ok

I am lively

I am successful

I have good ideas

I can make good decisions

I can solve problems

I can ask questions

I am not a good listener.

Each client has to underline the statements that applies to him/her.

  1. Dragon Hunt; Tell them they are going on a dragon hunt. Get a picture of a dragon a divide it into 8 pieces. Hide the pieces around the room. A leader is chosen randomly. In order to find the dragon they have to go on an adventure through a river, mud, long tall grass. They have to go up a mountain. Masking tape or chairs can be used to define the areas for the river, mud etc..,. The leader must work with the others to come up with solutions of how they will overcome the obstacles in their way. They will need to help each other. When they eventually get to the Dragon’s cave they may need to split into 2 groups in order to find the dragon. This is a good exercise to do in terms of giving and accepting instructions and encouraging and supporting others.
  1. When all the pieces of the puzzle are found they work in a group to put it together.
  1. Ending routine – relaxation exercise – candles – everyone is a candle standing up straight. The candle has been lit and the candle slowly melts to the ground.

Session 3:

Aim of this session: to help with creativity and feelings of competence and self worth.

  1. Starting routine: Pick a Pillow: Have a selection of pillows of all shapes, sizes and colours. Once they have chosen their pillow they can say how they are feeling.
  1. In pairs get them to represent how they feel about themselves in the sand tray. Do not partition the sand tray as “this creates paradox and contraindicated in joint sand play: it is like saying play together but do not play together.” (the handbook of group play therapy P.227). After they have done the sand tray allow the members of the group to quietly sit before the sand tray created by the other pair. Invite each pair to share a story or an association to their own sand tray. Give time for asking questions and initiating sharing about the group process, the impact the sand tray has on individual group members, the relationships of the issues raised in the sand trays ad how they correspond and represent the clients’ feelings.
  1. Ending routine – smoke in a chimney – stand comfortably and start to undulate the whole body starting with the feet (allow the heels to be raised from the floor) Imagine ripples moving up the body and flowing out of the top of the  head. These ripples are making you move forward and backwards. Now change and undulate from side to side. Imagine you are some smoke meandering up a chimney.


Session 4:

Aim of this session: To work closely and co-operatively with each other to help minimise anxious, frightened or ambivalent feelings.


  1. Starting routine – get each individual to draw a line or shape of how they feel at that particular moment.
  1. Give them the handout of the magic forest and get them as a group to fill in the gaps.
  2. Get them to paint a group picture of their magic forest.
  1. Sardines; (depends on the size of the room) One client hides and the others look for her. When they find her they join her and eventually all four clients will be hiding in the same spot – this is good for finding a safe spot in the magic forest – it helps with fears and anxieties and it shows the usefulness of support..
  1. They create a group story using the sand tray about what happened in the forest.
  1. Ending routine: relaxation exercise – rubber puppet – The clients imagine they are a rubber puppet. They are being pulled from above. They are pulled up and their limbs fly about in all direction. Their feet are being pulled off the ground. Finally the strings are cut and they relax.

Session 5:

Aim of session: To help children to focus on their personal attributes and be aware of their strengths and limitations.


  1. Starting routine: Pass the cushion – the clients sit in the circle and pass the cushion to one another. When a client has the cushion in their hands they must say their and adjectives to describe how they are feeling.
  1. Simon says: – encourage turn taking, listening and communication.
  1. Body image – divide the group into pairs. One person stands with his/her back against a sheet of paper on the wall while the other draws around their partner’s body. Each client takes their body image and fills it in with a self portrait.
  1. When everybody is finished they reflect on their own portrait and the other clients’ portraits. They are invited to share their thoughts and feelings in the group.
  1. Ending routine: relaxation exercise – candles see session 2.

Session 6


Aim of this session: To experience the feelings of being supported in a  successful group and bring the sessions to a close.

  1. Starting routine: Each client makes a movement of how they feel to-day.


  1. Each client chooses a musical instrument and one by one everyone joins in until everyone is playing their instrument together.
  1. Get the group to think of a nursery rhyme and use the musical instrument to represent the nursery rhyme. This can be done in pairs or as a whole group.
  1. Make a clay shape about how they feel about the group coming to an end. Each client can join their shape with another client if they both wish. Some clients may wish to stay alone with their shape and feeling. The clients can also change their shapes if they wish.
  1. Ending routine: Each client choose a small world symbol to represent how they felt being part of the group for six weeks.