Leading My First OT Group as an OT/s

Hey readers! This week I had the opportunity to design and lead my first OT group session in OT in Mental Health lab! To be honest…this actually was not the first group that I’ve ever led. But, it was the first one that was specifically OT-based! I am a Life Skills Coach at a program for adults with special needs, and in that role, I often lead group lessons, discussions, and activities on various topics. The format of the lessons that I lead at work is actually very similar to the one that I led for OT school, but without the specific goal of function and participation in occupation. Moving forward, I will definitely add a focus on occupation to the groups that I lead at work! (Win-win: I provide even better lessons for my participants AND I get extra practice leading OT groups!)

The lesson that I decided to create for class was titled “Defeating Self-Doubt.” Groups were required to be related to mental health and were to be created for our peers (in other words, what would current OT students benefit from in OT?) Other than that, we were given complete creative freedom in creating group activities. I decided to lead a group activity on self-doubt because I think that all students feel self-doubt or a lack of confidence at some point during OT school. Whether that is on a daily basis or in specific situations, we all go through it. Am I good enough to get into OT school? Should I even apply? Will I pass this exam? These are a few of the thoughts that students may have, and I wanted to conquer them! Here’s how I did it:

Getting ready to lead my first OT group! Here are my supplies and example stone.

The Activity

Purpose: Participants will engage in a group discussion and self-reflective activity in order to identify and defeat thoughts of self-doubt that obstruct participation in daily occupations (ie. school, work, social participation, sleep).

Goal 1: Participants will identify thoughts of self-doubt that currently or previously have affected their participation in meaningful or required activities in order to recognize barriers to occupational performance.

Goal 2: Participants will replace thoughts of self-doubt with positive affirmations in order to support occupational performance.

Goal 3: Participants will reflect on how self-doubt may impact them and their clients as future OT practitioners in order to see the value in implementing self-doubt-defeating strategies into daily life.

Materials Required: Meditation stones (I used black rocks purchased at a craft store), silver and white metallic Sharpies, cell phone for music (I used “Morning Yoga” by Meditation Music Zone on Spotify).

First, students identified thoughts of self-doubt and discussed how these impact participation in meaningful occupations (ie. school, work, social participation, sleep, etc.)

Second, students came up with personal affirmations to replace identified thoughts of self-doubt.

Third, students wrote affirmations on a meditation stone.

Fourth, students engaged in a 2 minute guided meditation in which students silently repeated written affirmations to themselves.

Fifth, we discussed! Some questions I used to guide conversation were: How did it feel to identify thoughts of self-doubt? What were some of the affirmations that you used to defeat self-doubt? How did it feel to repeat these affirmations to yourself? Did it make you uncomfortable? How would thoughts of self-doubt impact your performance as an OT practitioner? How would they impact your future patients/clients?

Meditation stones that students made during the group. (Picture posted with permission.)

Was it successful?

Yes! Something really cool happened during my group session. While leading my group, one of my classmates had what I’m going to call an “epiphany” moment. By identifying thoughts of self-doubt, replacing those thoughts with affirmations, and then internalizing those affirmations, she actually realized that despite certain events that occurred prior to coming to OT school, she truly IS meant to be here. This was such a special moment, and it felt really good to know that the group that I planned allowed her to have that moment!

Thanks for reading! Comment below if you lead groups as an OT or OT student!

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