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Taking the Escalator Therapy Tools

(Same tools, but organized according to the Taking the Escalator Method)

NEW: Ideas, News and Suggestions for Counselors:

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Anger Styles - What is your anger style?

Anger Attitude Check - Attitude is everything when it comes to expressing feelings

Anger Memories: Family - Looking at what we learned about anger from our family of origin

Anger Discussion Sentence Completion - Simple questions for opening up discussion on anger

Ways People Express Anger - An analysis of different ways people handle anger

Owning and Discharging Anger - Taking responsibility for your feelings and actions

Owning Anger Using "I" Statements - A basic but effective tool for expressing feelings

Anger Management: Digging Deeper and Using Basic AM Skills - Understanding and coping with anger triggers

Three P's for Coping with Anxiety in the Moment - Quick easy to remember way to cope during sudden anxiety or stress

Alcohol and Depression Quiz - A very basic quiz focused on opening up a basic discussion on this topic

Coping with Stress - A comprehensive list of effective coping skills

Killer Bs – The Effects of Stress and the Body, Brain and Behavior

Letting Go of Regrets

Use Your Brain and Not Your Pain - Another simple but effective strategy for coping with challenging emotions

How Do You Heal? - A look at the healing process for trauma


Frozen Moments

HP Squared: Hurt People, Hurt People

Unforeseen Circumstances: Adapt or Collapse

Creating an Emotional Self Care Plan


READ: The Relationship Radar

READ: The Relationship Analogy

Readjusting Your Relationship Radar - Adjusting the way you choose relationships

The Ideal Partner - Looking at what you want out of relationships

Healthy Life - Healthy Relationships

VIDEO - Healthy Life - Healthy Relationships - Corresponding video for above worksheet

"I Feel Like No One Understands" - Exploring empathy to help build interpersonal relationships

Guilt and Relationships - Coping with the challenges of guilt in relationships

Rules of "Fighting Fairly" - Some basic rules for conflict resolution in relationships

READ - Is Tough Love Too Tough?

READ - Six Qualities of Healthy Couples that Stay Together

More On Relationships

Relationship Red Flags

R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Find out what it means to me)

Resolving Conflicts without Anger

The Cycle of Over-functioning, Guilt, and Resentment

Escalator Sixth Floor: Managing and Avoiding Setbacks

For Counselors READ: Managing Setbacks Using the Escalator

Also: Setbacks and Engagement- A Guide for Counselors

READ: IF - Intensity and Frequency

Managing Setbacks: Group Introduction

Setback Prevention Skills for Success

Starting Over

Getting Over the Hump - An activity for those who have been at this a long time

UNG- Unnecessary Grief - Thinking and planning ahead to avoid trouble later

Stability and Setback Prevention Checklist

The Struggle is Real

FOMO - How to Identify, Prevent and Overcome the “Fear of Missing Out”

Triggered: A Discussion on Coping with Mental Health and Substance Use 

The Setback-Motivation Guide - Start here to determine what areas you need to work on below:

Event Planning to Prevent Setbacks

Self Sabotage

Weekend Plan - A basic planning tool for surviving weekends

Holiday Survival Plan - Planning ahead to get through any holiday without setbacks or relapse -

Escalator Seventh Floor: Supplemental Suggestions and Considerations

Meaning and Purpose in the Change Process

Coping with Death and Dying - A simple outline for discussing coping with a recent loss without abusing substances

Values, Honesty and Integrity

FOR COUNSELORS READ: Engagement Tool - Values and Values and CBT

Morals and Values

Moral of the Story

Values - What's Important

VIDEO LINK - Values - What's Important - (Corresponds to the above worksheet)

Values and Choices

Values Auction Activity

Values and Priorities

Lifeboat Activity - Lifeboat exercises are nothing new but this one has had good success

Desert Island

Alligator Fever

It's Easy to Be Honest When You Have Nothing to Lie About

Top 3

Duplicity: The Story of Addy

Values and CBT

Values: Past, Present and Future

I Wish

Personality Issues and Manipulation

READ - Personality Issues: The Honest Truth

READ - Slices of Truth

Getting Your Needs Met: Manipulation vs. Persuasion


Harm Reduction Specific -

(The Escalator method is a harm reduction approach overall however the following info specifically addresses harm reduction issues and topics)

Understanding Harm Reduction and Medication Assisted Treatment -The Basics

Understanding Harm Reduction - The Podcast - (Based on the above outline - click title to listen)

Taking an Honest Look at Abstinence, Harm Reduction, Substitution & Cross Addiction

READ  - A Realistic Look at Substitution

READ - Straight D's -A Simple Harm Reduction and MAT Illustration

Adolescent/Young Adult Specific Worksheets and Information

For Counselors: READ: Working with Adolescents and Young People

Adolescent Substance Use - A basic educational outline for those working with adolescents and parents

Adolescent Substance Use Group (Multiple Choice) - This is a kahoot activity for adolescent substance use groups

ADOLESCENTS: RISK FACTORS - Exploring risk factors for substance use issues with young people

Three Paths: A Discussion of Marijuana

Drug Dealing

Opinion: Venting about Vaping

Smoking Cessation Specific Worksheets:

Smoking Triggers Worksheet

Cravings and Smoking: Basic Principles

Cravings and Smoking: Skills List

Smoking Relapse Warning Signs

Nicotine Replacement Therapy Options

Smoking Quit Plan

Icebreakers and Group Cohesion Building -

(These are less about education and more about building up the group in a positive manner which can be equally important)

Group Glue - This one has a little bit of education because it explains the power and value of group cohesion

Brief Group Module and Icebreaker Collection 1 - Multiple shorter activities to choose from in this collection

Brief Group Module and Icebreaker Collection 2 - More

Making the Most out of Substance Use Treatment - This one is different because it is an interactive Kahoot activity

Telehealth Specific Group Cohesion Building Activities - Ideas specifically for virtual video groups

Declare-Disclose-Display - A variety of ways to get the group talking and interacting

Social Media Icebreaker - Exercise for self expression based on social media

Grading the Group - Interactive group report card

Grab Bag - A great list of interesting, questions and other situations to get people talking

Giving Activities - There is more happiness in giving than receiving

Give the Gift of Kindness and Hope

Fill in the Blanks Discussion Generator

Fun Facts - Group Cohesion Building with some substance use and mental health info

Group Member Fill In the Blank - A great exercise to have fun and make group interactive

Hello Neighbor

Image Narrations

Describe - Draw - Describe - Get group sharing thoughts and feelings with art

Deep and Personal - Some in depth personal questions for opening people up

Slips of Paper - A quick and easy icebreaker that gets a group talking with no prep time

Unique - Discussing what you would and wouldnt do

Care or Don't Care Icebreaker - Another basic tool for starting group discussion

Majority - Interactive exercise, better for an established group than a new one

Choose or Lose Icebreaker - Some basic multiple choice questions for opening up discussion

3A's - Appreciation, Assessment & Advice

Adjective Anecdotes

Cohesion Cards

Group Profile

One Thing

The Honesty Game

Group Awards

Group Goal

Group Share Battle

Positive Vibes

Caption This

Clothes Minded

Topic Turnaround

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

The Randomizer

Remember When...

The Gratitude Grid

Funny Questions

"Roll Play"...This May Get Dicey

Yankee Swap Icebreaker

What You Should Know About Me

Incoming Text Icebreaker

Icebreakers for Break Time - Short but interesting group assignments for breaks in between groups

Sophisticated Debates - Communicating your viewpoint in a respectful way

Pointless Pursuits - (Warning: only try this if you and the group members have established a degree of comfort with one another)

The League of Just Us - A basic activity about superheroes just for fun

Escalator Jeopardy - A comprehensive educational review in relaxed game format

Group Topics, Ideas and Worksheets for Closing Group

Group Close Out Ideas

Discussion Outline for Speakers or Video

End of the Day Review

Life Story Outline

Topics for Art or Journaling

Motivational Minute

Weekend Relapse Prevention Plan

Goodbye Group - An outline for group when someone is leaving, graduating or moving on

VIDEO: Life Story Video - LB HEARS Episode 1 - Nikki Tierney - (Click to view)

Long Branch HEARS is an organization in Monmouth County, New Jersey, the same area where Taking the Escalator got its start. Long Branch HEARS is a community based group working to do their part to help the substance use epidemic in this area.

Nicole "Nikki" Tierney is a close friend of Taking the Escalator as she has worked closely with Taking the Escalator clinicians during her personal journey of recovery. Nikki's story is engaging and motivating and this video can be used as group therapy tool as your clients will surely be inspired by her story

Additional Submissions by Taking the Escalator

Cross Addiction - Education and exercise on substituting addictive behaviors

How High was I..How Low did I Go? Assessing highs and lows of getting high

Labels - For lower insight levels, comparing what is using, abusing and addiction

Progress Report - Basic progress report worksheet for getting relevant discussion started

Understanding and Coping with Guilt and Shame - Similar to the other but in a different format

COD - Co Occurring Disorders - An older outline about COD's and addiction some people (LH) still like to use (Updated version on About page)

Group Roles - Outline of different ways individuals may protect themselves in group settings

The Disease Concept of Addiction - Review of "symptoms" of addiction

Podcast - A Story of Recovery and Hope: Nicole Tierney

Podcast - Melissa Mackolin's Recovery Journey

Podcast - Megan Reeves "Hold On Pain Ends" with discussion questions

Guest Submissions - Please email if you would like to submit an activity for the website

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