top of page

Taking the Escalator 


This page contains regular updates with brief group therapy modules, discussion points, icebreakers, . Unlike the  Group Activities by Topic page, the materials here are for shorter discussions, warm- ups and close outs as part of longer group sessions, as well as occasional articles and other resources from around the web

Past Taking the Escalator Forum Compilations:

FORUM ENTRIES - (Most recent/newest on top)

3/2/23 - Turnaround

Everyone has some kind of story where they were on a path in a direction that was not working for them and they were able to somehow turn it around and get moving in the right direction. What is your Turnaround story?

2/24/23 - Well Said..."

This icebreaker gives people in the group a chance to make a statement and get some encouragement.

The process is easy: Take turns allowing everyone in the group to make a thoughtful statement

Then, the group should all say "Well said!" and applaud.

  • Give everyone a chance to have a turn

2/14/22 Survival Lessons:

As an icebreaker discussion,

everyone in the group should complete the following sentence based on their life:

"I could give other people lessons on how to survive ___________________"

2/8/23Relationships: Lessons Learned

Discuss: What is at least one (or more) "Rules for Life" that you have gained from past relationships that you apply now and going forward?

1/28/23 - Sober Thrills

Discuss: Life can be exciting even without drugs and alcohol. When was the last time you felt a "rush" , elation, excitement or other intense positive feelings without the use of any substances?

1/21/22 - Musical Memory

The connection between music and emotional memories can be very powerful. Almost everyone has a memory associated with a song.  As a group: Share one Musical Memory and talk specifically about some of the emotions that are attached to it.

1/10/23  - My Machine


You are an inventor of a machine that either changes your life forever or changes the world (or both)

What does your amazing machine do?

1/1/23 - Never Forget

> As an icebreaker discuss the following three points:

  1. What is a lesson you learned from a difficult time or event in your life that you will never forget?
  2. What is something positive or unexpected that happened to you that you will never forget?
  3. How are you living your life differently as a result of these experiences?

12/27/22 - Survival Skills  

Directions: Discuss this question as an icebreaker:

Imagine a fantasy scenario where someone else is going to take your place in life for one month. You can only give them three instructions for successfully managing your life. What are your three instructions for your life replacement?

12/20/22 - Fast and Slow


  • What is one thing in this world that you wish there was a faster way to get it done and why?
  • What is one thing that you prefer to take your time with and why?

12/13/22 - Visitors for Dinner 

You get to sit and have dinner with any three people in the world or in history, alive or dead, for one hour to have a deep discussion on the topic of your choice. Who do you invite and what is the topic of discussion?

12/3/22 - There Are No Stupid Questions?

Ok maybe there are. As an icebreaker, use this list of 93 Stupid Questions to generate some interesting group discussion:


11/27/22 - ICEBREAKER: Identity Theft

Take turns filling in the blanks for the following sentence:

If I could take the identity of ______________ for one day, I would make sure to ________________

11/20/22 - My Commercial

Discuss: What is one thing that you are either really into or know a lot about that you could do a 30 second commercial about it? (Any topic at all as long as its appropriate)

OPTIONAL - If you want, set a timer and do your commercial for the group

11/13/22 - Money Changes Everything?

Brief icebreaker: Discuss these two questions:

1 - What is something you do well that you wish you could get paid to do?

2 - What is at least one thing you would not ever do for any amount of money

(and why?)

11/6/22 - Nature Appreciation

  • What is one thing specifically about nature that you really appreciate?
  • How can nature benefit your mental and emotional health?
  • Do you feel like you get enough time in nature? If not how can you increase your time in nature?

​10/29/22 - Beyond the Limits

Just about everyone of us can do more if we get the courage and motivation to expand outside our limits even just a little. As a group icebreaker discuss what is one thing you could do to try to push past one of your boundaries or limits to improve your life.

EXAMPLE - "I feel like if I tried to be more outgoing I would have more friends. I should try to start talking to people more and expand outside my comfort zone"

10/21/22 - Icebreaker: High's and Lows - 

Discuss the following:

  • LOW - What do you think will be the most difficult thing you will have to do in the next month (and why?)
  • HIGH - What do you anticipate as the highlight for you in the next month?

10/14/22 - Labels and Names 

Directions: Take turns sharing some nicknames you have had a different points in your life and share the origin of the name. Consider names you may have had in the following situations:

  • As a child
  • Within your family of origin
  • Amongst close friends
  • With romantic relationship partner
  • At school or work

10/8/22 - Random Question Generator 

Have some fun answering questions as a group using this random question generator website - 

10/2/22 - What the?????? 

 For this simple but fun and interesting icebreaker, everyone in the group should share an experience where something unusual happened (or you thought something unusual was happening due to a misunderstanding)

 and you just sat there and your mind said:

WHAT THE.....??????

9/26/22 - Recognizing Greatness 

To be called "Great" is such a distinguished accomplishment. For this group icebreaker on greatness discuss these two questions as a group:

1 - Who would you consider "great" in the world today or in history and why?

2 - What is one thing you can say that you are "great" at?

(If you cannot think of anything, then talk about something you would like to be great at)

9/18/22 - The Vast Expanse 

Icebreaker question: When you stare into a vast expanse like the night sky filled with stars or the ocean, what are some of the thoughts that come into your mind during those deep moments?

9/10/22 - History's Mystery

Icebreaker Question for Discussion:

  • Many mysterious, unknown and unsolved things have happened throughout the years in both past and recent history. Just about everyone has at least one historical event that interests them. If you could know the real truth for any one event at any point in time, what would you want to know about and why?

9/4/22 -Making Life Easier on Myself

Directions: Discuss the following three points as a group icebreaker

  • I make my life harder on myself when....
  • I make my life easier when....
  • How can I do LESS to unnecessarily make my life harder and MORE to make my life easier on myself?

8/27/22 - What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.

For this icebreaker everyone share a story about a life experience 

that was difficult at the time but you are now better for it.

Follow up question:

How can you use these experiences to look at future challenges with a more positive viewpoint? 

8/20/22 - Museum of Me

For this icebreaker exercise, go around the group and discuss this thought provoking imaginary scenario:

Imagine that a museum exhibit was going to be made all about YOU. What are some things from your life that would be included in the exhibit?

8/13/22 - Unity

  • Unity - the state of being united or joined as a whole.

As an icebreaker discussion: Everyone in the group should give their thoughts on this scenario: If you could unite the world to agree to work together on one goal or project, what would you choose and why?

Follow up question: What could this group achieve if everyone worked together in unity?

8/6/22 - Listen and Learn

This is just a brief group discussion module focused on listening. Discuss the following thoughts as a group:

  • A time when I wish I would have listened was….
  • A time when I wish I didn’t listen was…
  • Today I want to tune out conversations about….
  • Today, I want to listen and hear more about….

7/31/22 - "Learn to Love it"

Life can be interesting as with time and some persistence we can learn to like or even love things that we once had no interest in or perhaps even hated. For this icebreaker, everyone in the group is invited to share things they've learned to love. Some potential topics - FOOD, HOBBIES, MUSIC, EXPERIENCES, ENTERTAINMENT

7/24/22 - "Warning Label"

We all know about warning labels on things like medication which may have a warning label that says "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking" or something like that. For this icebreaker, discuss some fictional "warning labels" for each of these situation

  • What would be the warning label outside of the front door of your parents house?
  • What warning label would be appropriate for you when you first wake up in the morning?
  • What warning label should be displayed when you are angry?
  • What warning label should have come with your current (or most recent) relationship partner?
  • Come up with your own ideas if time....

7/18/22 - Never?

Try to come up with examples to discuss for the following two thoughts about the idea of "never"

1. I thought it would never happen, but it did

2. I often feared it would happen but it never did

3. If I can help it, one thing I will never do again is....

4. I never thought that...(Discuss an unexpected GOOD thing that has happened to you

7/12/22 - Positive Predictions

To start group today first do this simple exercise. Everyone write down a "Positive Prediction" about something that will happen in the session today. Try to be specific. 

Positive predictions only (No insults or hurtful ideas such as: "So and so is going to cry in group today" or "So and so used again") - Instead try to predict something encouraging, helpful or interesting in a constructive way

7/7/22 - "Technology and Health"

This is a brief icebreaker or discussion focused on the role technology plays in mental health. Discuss the following points as a group, keeping in mind that it is important to respect others views and opinions rather than argue.

How can technology trigger problems with people's mental health?

How can technology be used in a positive way to improve mental health?

How are you individually using technology to help improve yourself rather than allow it to cause problems or stress in your life?

7/3/22 - "Gratefully Stable"

It can be beneficial to take time to reflect on things in life that are going well. We can take some of these subtle things for granted if we don't take the time to notice them. For this brief exercise, as a group, discuss the following two points:

  • What are three things in your life right now that are at least at a "stable" point in your life (No real problems to speak of at the moment in these life areas)

  • What have you been doing to increase stability in your life? (What is working for you?)

6/29/22 - Icebreaker - "Take a Brief Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone"

For this group icebreaker, everyone in the group is asked to accept the challenge to step outside of their comfort zone, even if its just a little. Everyone in the group should think for a minute or two how they can do this. Here are some suggestions. When everyone is ready, go around the room letting everyone in the group take a turn.


> Tell the group a story about yourself that you have not told before, perhaps something that is a little surprising about you if you can

> Show the group something from your life that opens up your world a little more to the rest of the group. Maybe you have a skill or talent you could briefly demonstrate or a picture of something interesting from your life on your phone or a news story on the internet or social media

6/23/22 - Picture Discussion: "Leap of Faith"

As a group discuss the following picture and discuss what it means to you personally. How can you specifically apply this in your own life in a positive way?

6/18/22 - Discussion Module: "Family Functioning"

This is a brief group assessment and discussion on current family functioning. Go around the group and discuss how everyone is doing with regard to the following relationships in their life today. 

  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Extended Family

What knowledge, wisdom and skills have you developed for successfully managing family relationships? What works for you?

6/12/22 - "Morning Warrior" - Discussion Topic

Background: Something got you up and going this morning. It is great that you made it to this group. This is a brief discussion on getting motivated to face each day. Discuss the following questions as a group:

  • What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?
  • When you are struggling in the morning, how do you pull through?
  • What, if anything, do you do the night before to make the following morning easier?
  • Based on what you have heard in this group so far, what else can you do to increase your motivation to successfully get going in the morning?

6/6/22 - Interesting Discussion Topic - "Worst Job, Best Job, Dream Job"

Discuss the following questions as a group, one by one:

1. What was the WORST job you ever had and why?

2. What was the BEST job you ever had and why?

3. What would you consider to be your DREAM JOB, why?

6/1/22 - Icebreaker: "The Old Soul in Me"

Discussion: Even if you are not old (or even if you are) what is one thing that you do that is often associated with older people?


  • "I'm in my 20's but I love Bird Watching and Candle Making"
  • "I'm one of those people who wear a jacket outside even when its warm out, just like my grandparents"
  • "I still watch a lot of black and white movies"
  • "I enjoy writing in cursive"
  • "I wear slippers in the house 24/7"

What "old-soul" habits or hobbies do you have?

5/26/22 - Brief Outline for Discussing Violence in the Media

These are some basic questions for guiding group discussion when something tragic happens in the news:

Pick the event you will be discussing

1. What are your THOUGHTS about what happened?

  • RULES this part: 1) Keep it brief so everyone has time to share - 2) Keep it PERSONAL not POLITICAL 

2. What are your FEELINGS about what happened?

  • Use APPROPRIATE FEELING WORDS - Counselor may want to provide feeling chart

3. When you are not in this group, if you need to process this further: Where can you get more SUPPORT?

  • Counselor may want to prepare some local resources

4. Even when troubling things happen in the news we need to keep moving forward in our own lives. What skills will you use to COPE?

  • It may be helpful at this point to transfer into a group about COPING SKILLS

5/20/22 - Discussion: "I Can Relate"

Directions - This is a basic topic to generate some potentially interesting group discussion. Go around the group and have group members share about a person (real - dead or alive - or fictional) whom they can relate to and why. Examples provided to get group started

  • "I can relate to the main character from the movie Shawshank Redemption because I know what its like to patiently and persistently work towards a goal then to finally succeed"

  • "I can relate to Keanu Reeves because he is so down to earth and just wants to be a good person and not act like an entitled jerk like so many other people in the world do"

Discuss your own ideas

5/14/22 - Icebreaker: "Used to it!"

Its strange in life the things we can get accustomed too if we are exposed to a situation long enough. As an icebreaker, everyone in group is encouraged to share some things that they have gotten used to in life even if they were difficult at first. Some examples are provided to help get the group started:

  • "When I was growing up I absolutely hated getting up early but now with practice I have gotten used to being up every day at 5:30am even on weekends!"
  • "Since I have been more health conscious I have become accustomed to eating vegetables, which I used to hate"