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4 min read

Effective Therapy Activities for Teens

a teen in therapy

Most of us understand that there is some difference to how therapy sessions are structured for teens and adults. However, many parents may be wondering what activities do teens do in therapy? In this article, we'll share why therapy looks different for young people, as well as share some common individual and group therapy activities for teens that you can even use at home to improve communication skills with your kids.

Therapeutic Activities for Teens and Kids: Why Are They Important?

Mental health issues and emotional challenges can happen at any age, and therapy can help improve mental health. However, the struggle of keeping teens and kids engaged in therapy is real. Their brains are at a different developmental stage than those of adults, and no matter how good their communication skills, they may not be in a position emotionally to share openly with their therapist.

In addition, many teens may have difficulty opening up to adults. Even teens without emotional regulation problems or mental health challenges are living through an emotionally tumultuous time and dealing with problems like peer pressure, academic pressures, and sometimes family conflict. They may not be ready to share with a therapist.

Mental health professionals use different approaches with young people. For kids and young adolescents, there is play therapy, and for older teens, expressive therapy activities can be effective. These forms of therapy allow them to share difficult emotions with their therapist, as well as build trust and rapport. Play therapy is just what it sounds like, using the medium of play to allow children to express their emotions. Expressive therapies include things like music therapy activities or art therapy activities.

Therapy Activities For Teenagers

There are a number of fun therapy activities for adolescents and youth that can help them increase self awareness, boost self esteem, improve emotional regulation, and better communicate with friends and family members. Some of the following are techniques used by therapists, and are listed under three categories: art therapy activities, group therapy activities, and music therapy activities for teens.

Art Therapy Activities For Teens

Art therapy can be an excellent way to encourage self expression in teens. Through self expression, teens can build self awareness and self esteem, as well as communicate more openly with their therapist (or family members). An art therapy session can take on any number of approaches, with different art mediums, focuses, and goals.

Drawing Activities

Intuitive drawing can be an excellent way for teens to express themselves in art therapy. Have them use pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, or markers to sketch out their moods, emotions, or relationship dynamics that are too complex for them to put into words. Putting these things down on paper can lead to increased self awareness and greater emotional well being.

Painting Activities

Much like drawing activities, a painting activity involves creating something that can show thoughts, emotions, people, or events. Paint can also be flung, splashed, and used in such a way as to release emotions in a more visceral way than drawing utensils.

Creating a Creative Collage

A collage is an art therapy project that helps a teen focus on self reflection and self awareness. Have a series of magazines, and other textiles, stickers, cloth, etc., and allow them to cut and pasted into a collage. As with other art therapy activities, this will encourage them to really reflect on what they're made of. Core values, activities and people that they love, and other things that make up their current selves.

Creating Sculptures

Sculpture is not only a mode of self expression, but working the clay itself can be a part of the therapeutic process. It is firm but moldable, and can have a lot of impact. Have the teen use clay to form abstracts of feelings, themselves, peers, or family members.

Group Therapy Activities For Teens

Group therapy activities for teens can be an excellent way to build social skills and share with other teens who are going through the same kinds of emotional struggles they are facing. Group therapy sessions can help teens express their feelings about academic stress and other challenging situations, share coping skills with group members, and make sense of complex emotions. These therapeutic activities (especially ones like role play or dramatic expression) can also teach problem solving skills. Keep in mind that any of these activities may also be done with an individual if you get involved or play the other part.

Role Play

Role play is therapy activity that can provide valuable insights that may not otherwise be accessible from young adults. Drama can be used to explore roles they play in life in a nonthreatening way.

Movement Activities

Movement therapy may include dance, but not necessarily. Movement is a therapeutic experience that can improve motor skills, reduce stress, help with self regulation, and be a creative outlet. Have your teen pick a playlist to express different emotions like anger, sadness, or happiness, and have them create movements to express these feelings.

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Holding therapy activities for teens outdoors can offer extra benefits. Just being outside offers stress relief, and an engaging activity that includes physical exercise can offer benefits to your teen and to other group members. Working together encourages empathy, can boost self esteem, increase social skills, and use peer pressure in a positive way.

Candy Game

Give each group member a bag of candy, like Skittles or M&Ms. Link each color to a certain emotion, and then have them take turns taking a piece of candy from their bag. Ask each member to share with mindful speaking what makes them feel this way, or tell a story of a time when they felt that emotion. Unlike traditional conversation, this allows the teen to speak in indirectly and not answer a specific question.

Music Therapy Activities For Adolescents

Music therapy allows for verbal expression, as well as incorporating writing and music into expressing their past, present moment, and future self. Like art therapy activities, these therapy activities for teens include therapeutic activities that allow young adults to express feelings about themselves, a family member, a peer, or an idea without feeling that there will be negative consequences.

Good Vibes Playlist

Using Spotify or another music app, have your teen create a playlist to help them feel better when they're feeling down, and encourage them to use it when necessary.


If your teen has a gift for music, have them write a song about their feelings. Otherwise, have them put it down in poetry.

My Life Playlist

A great way for teens to dive into self expression is to create a playlist for their life. Have them curate songs for different times, feelings, activities, etc.

Therapy Activities for Teens in Austin, TX

If you're looking for therapy activities for teens to help with self esteem issues, peer pressure, or conflict with family members, professional therapy can be the place to go.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group our team of doctoral-level psychotherapists have experience working with teens in a variety of ways, including art therapy and other expressive therapies that are beneficial to mental health.

Give us a call today and our patient coordinator will help you find the right Austin teen therapist to help your teen build healthy coping skills, connect with core beliefs, learn greater self awareness, and communicate with other family members through creative activities. 

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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