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How to Get the Most Out of Group Therapy Sessions - February 2008

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How to Get the Most Out of Group Therapy Sessions

By: Margaret Rice, PT

Pediatric therapists frequently work with children in small and sometimes large group settings. The children not only receive therapy services but also benefit from working on cooperation and social skills. The therapists benefit by being able to observe skill acquisition in a more realistic environment. The negative aspects of group therapy sessions can be behavior management issues and lack of individualized attention. Here are 5 helpful hints on how to get the most out of your group therapy sessions.

  1. Differentiate Your Instruction: Teachers do this day in and day out. Therapists can benefit by planning their groups appropriately so that each child benefits. Plan your therapy session by preparing a lesson plan that allows for individualized levels of instruction. Try breaking the group up into smaller groups for specific skill stations with various difficulty levels. When playing games or activities, modify the rules so that each child is challenged appropriately.
  2. Establish Rules and Routines: Make sure the children understand several rules that must be followed during each session. Don't have your own set of rules to follow? Just ask the children's teachers. Most likely there are established rules in the classroom that you can carry over during therapy times. Establish a routine for each session so that the children know what to expect. For example, start with warm-ups, followed by an activity and finish up with a cool down activity. Use visual references if possible to refer to the routine.
  3. Be Creative and Fun: Children are required to sit and concentrate for so much time during the school day. Try to keep the group therapy sessions creative and fun for the children. Not only will behavior management be easier you will also have higher motivational levels to participate in the activities. Keep extra ideas on hand in case if you find yourself with unstructured time.
  4. Use Peer Modeling to Your Advantage: Whenever possible, recruit a peer to model the proper activity. Make sure that all children in the group can see the modeling. Try sitting the children in a circle or line (shoulder to shoulder). Try to allow for each child in the group to model an activity. This again provides motivation and positive self esteem.
  5. Recruit Helpers: If you are working with a very large group or a group with behavioral issues recruit some help to join you during the session. Try to schedule the group with another discipline. For example, the occupational therapist and speech therapist can schedule a group together. Try pushing into the classroom for a group session where you have a large number of children in the same room and other adults will be present.

Group pediatric therapy session can be beneficial for all involved if each session is carefully planned and carried out.

This Month's Featured Vendor: Your Therapy Source

Special Thanks to Margaret Rice, PT, for providing an article for this issue's Therapy Corner.

Margaret Rice PT, has authored two books on pediatric group therapy, 25 Instant Sensory Motor Group Activities and Sensory Motor Group Activities from A to Z

Please support our contributing authors and visit Your Therapy Source, Inc.

She can also be reached by email at:

Tags: February 2008 Newsletter School Based OT School Based PT School Based Speech PT SLP OT School Based Psychology Article