Thursday, January 20, 2022

Integrity Self Exploration


Introduction: Read and discuss the following statements as a group while trying to be as honest and open with yourself and the group as possible.

Would you rather…

Be hurt by the truth or comforted by a lie

Be uncomfortable yet open or “safe” but secretive (About yourself in this group)

Experience the sting of pain from confessing a mistake or the slow and steady stress of concealing your errors

Struggle honestly today with a clear conscience or get ahead faster through scams and deceit

Walk away from a fight to maintain inner peace or engage in a confrontation but deal with lingering drama

Face the music on your own terms now or run from the consequences knowing they may catch you later

Take the hard road now with self-respect or take the easy way out and risk remorse or regret

Questions like these are related to the important topic of integrity


Integrity is an important human quality that can be difficult to define. Here is one definition:

Integrity (noun)

Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character;

 the state of being “whole”


Digging Deeper (Discuss)


Think of a bridge – Would you cross a bridge if someone told you the “integrity” of the bridge is compromised? – Why not?


Part of the definition of integrity says that it involves being “whole” – What do you think that means?

o   To help put that in perspective, how is a person who lacks integrity “divided”?


Now please share your own personal experiences with integrity by discussing these questions:


1.   You’ve reviewed the definition of integrity but now share what does integrity mean to you personally?


2.   Can you think of a time in life when your integrity was put to the test? – How did it work out?


3.   Sometimes doing the right thing can bring some discomfort, stress, and even pain (at least at first) – How have you taken the hard road with a decision in life in order to maintain integrity?


4.   One way to learn about integrity is to see how a person deals with adversity – How do you tend to deal with life’s unexpected challenges today?


5.   Keeping it real – Would others say you have integrity? Who do you believe feels this way about you?


6.   Finally, what helps you build integrity in your own life?

Four Keys to Personal Integrity Building

Life in this world can be hard so don’t feel discouraged because building and maintaining integrity is an ongoing effort for everyone alive today. Life has many, many challenges that test our integrity

Here are four key aspects of building and maintaining integrity


1 – Honest Self Awareness (Self-Honesty) – Ask yourself the difficult questions and don’t hide from the uncomfortable answers. Below are some examples of self-questions when facing an integrity challenge:

·  Is there something I need to change here (even if I don’t necessarily want to)?

·   Am I avoiding the truth or running from reality in this situation?

·   Even though I feel I am right, is there a possibility I am actually wrong?

·   Am I just making excuses to avoid responsibility?

·   Am I blaming other people or circumstances when I really need to look in the mirror about this?


2 – Accountability, Acceptance and Ownership – When faced with a challenge, can you honestly make the following self-statements?


·        “I accept my role and own my part of the problem and of the solution”

·         “I will work on what I need to reasonably and ethically do to make things better even if it comes at a hardship to me”

·        “I will see this through to the end (if possible) and not try to escape my commitment to this issue”


3 – Consult and Plan with the Right People – People with integrity surround themselves with others who have integrity. Consider the following questions:

·        Are there honest and upright people in my life who will tell me the truth, even if it is uncomfortable?

·        Are these people available to consult with when I am facing a challenge?

·        Am I distancing myself from people who try to get me to compromise my ethics and principles?


4- Decisions and ActionsTrue integrity is defined by the choices we make and the actions we take. Talking the talk is a good start but walking the walk is the real sign of a life of integrity. Consider the following

·        Are my current goals in line with a life of honesty, self-respect, and trustworthiness?

·        Could I be considered a role model to others (like family and friends, and especially children?)

·        Am I preparing myself to face and make the difficult decisions in life when I need to?

·        (To the degree I can, as we all make mistakes) – Are my actions mostly congruent with my principles? (Avoiding duplicity or hypocrisy)


Final “Take Home” Questions


What is one (or two) things that you will take with you from this discussion?


What is one thing you can start doing today (or at least very soon) to increase integrity and make self-improvement toward your recovery and personal life goals?




Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"Roll" Play...aka "This May Get Dicey"


“Roll” Play…aka This May Get Dicey – This is a group activity to encourage group cohesion building, open-sharing and discussion. Simply take turns rolling two dice and follow the corresponding directions for each roll

If there are no dice available or if this group is being done via telehealth, then you can use this virtual dice roller. Use the top “Virtual Dice Roller” but set it to 2 dice. -

If after playing the game for more than one turn, a player gets the same roll again, they player should just do something a little different than he or she did the first time that they rolled that number.

Scoring (optional) – Group members get one point for each successfully completed task and a bonus point if the bonus suggestion is completed for that roll as well – If scoring used, select a scorekeeper before starting




SAY ANYTHING – Say anything that you want to the rest of the group to hear (As long as it is not mean, insensitive or offensive) – BONUS If this is done in person while standing up



MEMORABLE - Tell someone something you might remember one day in the future about them or something that they said – BONUS if you pick someone who has a different type of lifestyle than you right now


SHARED LIKE – Tell the group about something that you like and then try to pick one person in the group who you either know or think likes this too – BONUS if you get it right (No drug answers please)



APPRECIATE - Tell someone something you admire or appreciate about them – BONUS if you select someone in the group whom you do not interact with that often



FEELING STATEMENT – Share your feelings by completing this sentence: I feel (Choose feeling word) about or when... (complete the rest) – BONUS if the counselor decides that you gave a heartfelt and meaningful answer about your feelings



SELF SHARE – What is something about you that you have not yet ever shared in this group? (Does not have to be “deep” – Anything goes as long as its new) – BONUS if the group agrees that this is indeed something new you have not shared before



RELATE - Tell someone in the group what you relate to about them – BONUS if you pick someone who tends to be more quiet, shy or reserved in the group



ADVICE - Tell someone something that you feel might be helpful for them – BONUS if the person receiving the advice agrees this was healthy and helpful feedback



LEARN – Find out something new by asking someone in the group about something that you don’t know about them – BONUS if you pick someone from as different of an age group as possible


WHY - Ask someone an interesting why question – BONUS if you let someone else pick who you ask



OPINION – Give your opinion on any topic of your choice – BONUS if you let someone else pick the topic

If using scoring: At the end of the group have the person with most points get a reward that was predetermined by the counselor before the group (For example a treat of some kind if available, get to leave 5 minutes early, get to choose tomorrow’s topic, get to pick a song for the group to listen to and discuss etc. – be creative


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starting and Staying on a Positive Note


This exercise is designed for anyone who is ready to reevaluate where they are in their overall plan for making positive changes related to substance use and any coexisting mental health or other conditions. However, even if you are already on an established path toward positive change and recovery, you can still benefit from this exercise by simply checking in on some key aspects involved in making and sustaining positive changes for growth and progress toward your substance use and mental/emotional life goals.


Directions – As a group review and discuss the following areas that can be essential aspects of “starting and staying on a good note” in the positive change process. The counselor/group leader should decide to do this exercise one of two ways:


General Group Discussion – Depending upon time and overall willingness of group members, it may be easier to just talk through each section with no writing involved. If using telehealth this may be optimal


In Depth Write and Review – For more motivated groups with members who are ready to do some more effort and hard work, have everyone write down their answers to each section as a worksheet. Then discuss completed worksheets as a group



Starting and Staying on a Positive Note:

Discussion Areas: Parts 1, 2 and 3


Part 1 – Building Momentum


Rid Yourself – To achieve your goals what do you need to remove or get rid of in your life?






Keep Close By – Who and what do you have in your life now that helps you on your path to progress?






Add On or In – What else do you think you could add on or into your life that would help you to keep moving in a positive direction? (For example: Supports, hobbies, coping skills, new job, etc.)






To-Do List – In the next month or two, what are a few essential things on your life “To-Do List”?






Not-To-Do List – What are a few things you are going to do your best NOT to do in the next few months





Part 2 – Sustaining Progress: Keeping Life Moving Forward and Upward



Stay Awake and Aware (Insight) – This can be challenging but think of how you are going to keep your goals in front of you, so you don’t “fall asleep” on your progress and slip back into older negative ways of thinking (or not thinking clearly because of a lack of self-awareness)





Sustaining Forward Motion (Internal Motivation) – Making progress is a process with ups and downs in motivation from day to day. How can you remember every day to keep trying without giving up? How can you keep the fire of motivation burning inside of you on a daily and long- term basis?





Push From the Outside (External Motivation and Support) – What is your plan to involve others to help you stay on the right path? Who can help “correct or redirect” you when you start to step out of line?





Inspiration – Who or what inspires you to keep going on a deeper more meaningful level?





Part 3 – Measuring Progress


How will you know for sure that you are making progress? (Counting days alone is not enough)- How can you measure the quality of your progress in addition to quantity?


The Taking the Escalator Method is focused on enhancing and sustaining these three essential qualities in the diagram (Insight, Internal Motivation and External Motivation/Support) to establish and drive the positive changes needed for inspiration and progress toward treatment and overall lifestyle goals

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Grind Part 5 - Recognize, Revive, and Survive


Recognize, Revive, and Survive

“Old habits die hard” as the saying goes. Sometimes when we are working through the grind, old stuff from the past can come up and creep back in to our minds. Self-esteem and self-confidence problems, guilt and shame, resentments and a host of other negative emotions and mood states can seemingly pop up out of nowhere, sometimes when we least expect it. Therefore, it essential that we have a plan in place to survive these moments, intervals, and episodes when they rear their ugly presence and disrupt our mental peace and stability. Often the simple passing of time using our coping tools can be enough to sustain us, but on occasion we need to employ our emotional survival plan to push on through and keep on grinding forward with positive motivation and momentum toward ongoing inspiration and progress.


Who can I turn to help me get back on a good track when I am starting to feel like negative thoughts, moods and feelings may be starting to get the best of me or disturb my peace of mind?


What self-soothing and self-coping strategies work for me when mentally or emotionally things look like they may start to take a turn for the worse?


What is my safety and survival plan if things get out of control (For example, when thoughts and feelings become potentially unsafe or unmanageable. Specifically: What is the action plan?)

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Common Goals


Common Goals


Introduction – This interactive exercise is focused on identifying and discussing goals as a group and then sharing goals that we have in common with others. Then, after the opening exercise, each group member will have the opportunity to email their future self with some encouraging goal statements based on this exercise


Common Goals Opening Exercise


Directions – Set up a group order and allow one person in group to go at a time. When it is your turn, share a goal statement with the rest of the group. Some life goal areas are provided below to help group members come up with ideas. Once the goal statement has been shared with the group, others in the group should make comments based on the following choices:


A.  Common Goal – This is a goal you also share and want for yourself

B.  Maybe one day – This goal is not one you share now, but it sounds like something you may consider

C.  Interesting but not for me – This goal sounds interesting, but it isn’t something you have on your radar


Keep in mind it is important to be encouraging and motivating to one another. So negative statements about other people’s goals such as “that’s stupid” or “that’s impossible” or “that’s crazy” or any other negative remark is to be avoided in this group.


Life Goal Areas – Any personal goal statement is appropriate for this exercise, but these are some life goal areas just to help with ideas


o   Family

o   Relationship/Social

o   Employment

o   Educational

o   Career

o   Financial

o   Legal

o   Physical

o   Health/Medical

o   Fitness/Exercise

o   Emotional/Mental Health

o   Personal (Hobby or other personal interest)

o   Recreational/Experiential

o   Spiritual


Remember, good goal statements are SMART:


Closing Exercise – Letter to My Future Self


Directions – Everyone in the group should choose 2 or 3 goals statements from the previous exercise that stand out as meaningful. Use a smartphone with email (or if this is done at a facility, then it would be helpful to have a computer or tablet available for group members who do not have smart phones.) – 

Go this website:



Group members should take a few minutes to draft an inspirational letter based on their goals and enter it onto the “letter to my future self” website – However before hitting SEND, group members should read their inspirational letter to the rest of the group. After sharing it with the group, then his send to have the letter emailed to your future self at a time interval agreed upon by the group (such as 1 year into the future)


Your inspirational letter to your future self will appear in your email inbox at the time you selected today

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Yankee Swap Icebreaker


Intro – This is a group cohesion building activity focused on giving imaginary but meaningful gifts in a group setting. This activity follows a “Yankee Swap model with the following directions. Many people know how to do a Yankee Swap already so if there is anyone in the group who knows the rules, it would be good to have that person help explain the rules. Here are the rules for a Yankee Swap explained:

Set an order for group members to take turns by selecting someone to go first with others following in order from there. The first person should pick one of the gifts from the list and read it to everyone. After the first person reads their gift, the next person has the option to either a) select a new gift from the list or b) take the already selected gift from the first player. If he or she decides to steal the gift from the first person, that person then gets to unwrap a new gift.

This continues with each consecutive player. For example, the third person then has the choice to either a) also select a new gift or b) steal from any of the already selected gifts. Keep in mind that the person whose gift is taken can only select a new gift—he or she cannot swap at that point. This goes on until each person has gotten a chance to pick a gift.

Gift List   - Remember, do not read the gifts out loud until they are selected. A person can select a gift by saying the gift number then after selecting the gift, read the description

Gift 1

Acceptance to and paid full scholarship to any college or other educational program in the world

Gift 2

Clean slate – Free lifetime full expungement of legal record, license restored, all fines paid

Gift 3

An all-expenses paid one-week family vacation anywhere in the world, yearly for life

Gift 4

Get to be lifelong friends with a celebrity (You pick who)

Gift 5

Lease a new car every 3 years for life, fully paid

Gift 6

Lifetime personal supply of one type of food

Gift 7

The person with this gift finds the love of their life

Gift 8

Get to select topic and star in a feature film with multimillion dollar budget

Gift 9

Get to be CEO of large corporation

Gift 10

Free clothes for life, provided you wear them yourself and don’t sell or give them away

Gift 11

Unlimited startup money for one year to start your own successful business

Gift 12

Your children all guaranteed to grow up with successful careers to the best of their ability

Gift 13

You get one mistake erased from your past

Gift 14

Free entry and front row seats for 2 to any professional sporting event for life (non-resalable)

Gift 15

Get a one-hour call to make suggestions to the president once per month for the rest of your life

Gift 16

Part time personal assistant 5 hours/day for life

Gift 17

Heal one person (besides self) of a chronic illness or condition

Gift 18

Remove one physical defect or injury