9 Family Therapy Activities to Improve Communication


Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to reduce family conflict and distress by improving interaction among family members.

This therapy recognizes that family relationships have an impact on the feelings, behavior, and mental well-being of each member.

One of the most crucial elements in maintaining healthy family relationships is effective communication.

In this article, we will introduce nine engaging family therapy activities designed to enhance communication within your family.

From active listening exercises to art therapy, these activities are more than just fun; they're tools to foster understanding, empathy, and most importantly, open lines of dialogue within your family.

So, let's set forth on this exploration of activities that could significantly alter the way your family communicates and interacts.

Family Conflict Issues Therapists in Colorado

Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

(719) 345-2424
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Melvin Lee, LPCC

Melvin Lee, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

(720) 449-4121
Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342

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Activity 1: Family Meetings

Family meetings are a simple yet effective activity that can significantly enhance communication within the family.

This activity involves setting aside a specific time each week for all family members to discuss various topics, ranging from day-to-day issues to future plans.

The meeting should be a safe space where everyone, including the children, is encouraged to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly without fear of judgment or criticism.

To implement this activity, establish a regular schedule for the meetings and ensure they are a priority for everyone.

Family meetings improve communication and help foster mutual respect, as everyone's opinions are listened to and valued.

Activity 2: Role-Playing

This could range from everyday occurrences, like resolving a disagreement over chores, to more complex issues such as dealing with bullying at school or managing a major life change.

Each family member takes on a different role and expresses their thoughts and feelings from that perspective.

It allows family members to step into each other's shoes, helping them understand different perspectives and reactions.

The goal is to understand the other person's point of view better and respond in a more empathetic manner.

Encourage open and honest discussion after the role-play to reflect on the experience and discuss what was learned.

Activity 3: Open-Ended Questions Game

The game requires formulating questions that don't permit a straightforward 'yes' or 'no' response.

These questions encourage more detailed responses, stimulating deeper conversations.

For example, rather than posing the question "Did you enjoy your day at school?", you could inquire "What was the standout moment for you at school today?"

Make sure your questions are age-appropriate and interesting enough to stimulate conversation.

You can even prepare some questions in advance to keep the conversation flowing. The goal is not to interrogate, but to communicate and connect on a deeper level.

Activity 4: Feeling Charades

In this activity, family members take turns acting out different feelings without using words, while others guess the emotion being portrayed.

This could range from basic feelings like happiness or sadness to more complex emotions such as frustration or embarrassment.

Start by preparing a list of emotions that are suitable for your family's age range and comfort level.

Write these emotions on slips of paper and place them in a bowl. Each family member will then draw a slip and act out the emotion while others guess.

The purpose is to help family members become more comfortable with expressing and recognizing a wide range of emotions.

After each round, consider having a brief discussion about the emotion to deepen understanding and empathy.

Activity 5: Family Vision Board

A Family Vision Board is a collective and creative activity where each family member contributes to a visual representation of shared goals, dreams, and values.

Set aside a specific time for everyone to come together and work on the board.

Gather all the necessary materials - a large poster board, old magazines, scissors, glue, markers, etc.

Using all the prepared tools, family members can cut out images, words, or phrases from magazines, printouts, or write their own, that represent anything from places you'd like to travel, skills you'd like to learn, to the kind of atmosphere you want to cultivate at home.

Encourage each family member to explain why they chose their specific images or words, promoting discussion and understanding.

Activity 6: Gratitude Jar

The idea is to have a jar in a common area of the house where family members can drop in notes expressing gratitude for something or someone.

Place the Gratitude Jar in a visible spot. Provide pens and small pieces of paper nearby.

Explain the purpose of the jar to all family members and encourage them to write down their notes of gratitude regularly.

These notes could range from appreciating a family member's kind action, acknowledging a personal achievement, or expressing thankfulness for a positive event that happened during the day.

At the end of each week (or month), the family can gather to read the notes aloud.

This practice improves communication by encouraging family members to openly express their feelings of gratitude. 

Activity 7: Active Listening Exercises

These exercises can take various forms, but a common one involves one family member sharing a story or expressing an opinion, while others listen attentively without interrupting.

After the speaker finishes, listeners then paraphrase what they understood, ask clarifying questions, or share their reactions.

The goal is not just to 'hear' but to 'understand' the speaker's perspective.

To implement this exercise, set aside dedicated time for the family to gather without distractions.

Set clear guidelines, emphasizing the importance of not interrupting the speaker and the role of listeners in demonstrating understanding.

Rotate the speaker role so that everyone gets a chance to express and be heard.

The key to successful active listening is patience, openness, and willingness to understand others' viewpoints.

Activity 8: Conflict Resolution Role Play

Conflict Resolution Role Play is an interactive activity that involves family members acting out different scenarios to practice resolving conflicts healthily and constructively.

This could involve real-life situations that have caused tension in the past or hypothetical situations.

After each role-play scenario, there should be a discussion about what happened, how it was handled, and what could be done differently.

Always end on a positive note, reinforcing the idea that disagreements are normal and can be resolved in a respectful and understanding manner.

Activity 9: Family Art Therapy

This can involve drawing, painting, sculpting, or any other form of artistic expression.

Each member works on their own piece, which they later explain to the rest of the family.

The purpose is not to create perfect artwork but to use art as a medium to express feelings that might be difficult to put into words.

After each art session, have a discussion where each person explains their artwork and others listen attentively and respond with understanding and respect.

How to Get the Most Out of Doing Family Therapy Activities for Communication

To enhance communication within your family unit, consider implementing structured activities that encourage family members to connect and express themselves.

Try these ideas to get your started on how to get the most out of your sessions.

  1. Create a Family Tree - Start by building a family tree. This activity not only traces your family lineage but also enables family members to discuss significant life events and better understand their family structure.
  2. Set Up Regular Family Therapy Sessions - Schedule sessions with a family therapist who can guide you through tailored communication exercises. These sessions help family members gain insights into their roles and dynamics within the entire family.
  3. Practice Active Listening Techniques - Integrate active listening techniques during discussions. This approach encourages family members to truly hear each other, promoting empathy and deeper understanding.
  4. Address Significant Life Events - Use these sessions to talk about significant life events or mental health disorders impacting the family. Understanding these events helps resolve conflicts and strengthens family bonds.
  5. Engage in Group Activities - Plan activities that bring the entire family together. Whether it's discussing the family tree or playing games that require teamwork, these activities enable family members to communicate more effectively.
  6. Seek Professional Guidance - If your family is dealing with complex issues like substance abuse or mental health disorders, involving mental health professionals can provide the necessary support and strategies to improve communication skills.

If you try these ideas, then your family members can learn to communicate more openly, develop new coping strategies, and build stronger connections with each other. 

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All the activities above encourage empathy, understanding, and open expression, fostering a healthier family dynamic.

They equip family members with the skills to handle disagreements constructively and express their emotions effectively.

While activities can provide significant benefits, families need to remember that professional help is available if conflicts persist or if they find it difficult to communicate effectively.

Don't hesitate to seek out therapists or counselors who specialize in family dynamics and communication. 

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July 21st, 2024

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