5 Tips to Structure and Organize Your Bridging Group
Bridging groups offer a chance for both clients and clinicians to step away from their individual work and reflect upon the work being done during therapy. It helps the connection of the practice of cognitive skills to daily life. These groups can be highly productive for both the clinician and group members when these groups are organized and structured properly. Here are 5 tips to help you organize and structure your bridging group.
1. Create the Space
Space and room design can greatly impact how a session is run and how group members interact with each other as well as with the therapist. Because these groups are typically run with 6-8 clients, you will want to ensure that you have a space that can accommodate at least 10 people. The best practice is to have clients seated around a circular meeting table. This allows clients to engage with one another as well as with the therapist leading the group. The table also provides a flat surface for activities where clients may write down ideas, take notes, or draw pictures relating to a discussion or activity.
You will also want to ensure that your space allows for clients to not be crammed in close proximity to one another incase you conduct an activity that does require some degree of movement.
2. Make the Time
While every bridging group varies in duration, it is important that the bridging group sessions allow adequate time to allow for discussion, teaching, the performance of practice activities, reflection, and debriefing. Some bridging groups can run for 15-20 minutes and others can run for 45-60 minutes. When deciding the duration of the group session, you should factor in your client’s ability to engage in group discussion, the activities you wish to perform with your clients, and the purpose of your bridging group session. For example, is your session designed to teach metacognition or are you going to provide skill-building through hands-on activities or computer-assisted ones. You can adjust the duration of your bridging group sessions according to your clients needs. However, most sessions run for 30-60 minutes to allow for both discussion and therapeutic activities.
3. Get the Supplies
- Hosting a discussion?
You may want a whiteboard and markers to be able to write, draw, and brainstorm problem solving ideas your clients share with you.
- Doing hands-on activities?
Gather the props you need – cards, pictures, and other physical objects for the activities you plan to carry out during your session.
For any activity you plan to do during your bridging group session, make sure that you have enough supplies so that each group member can participate and engage effectively. It is important to think about what topics you plan to cover during your sessions for the week and your inventory of supplies. You may want to make a “bridging group checklist” for yourself that takes inventory of the topic you plan to cover, the number of attendees for your group, which bridging activities you plan to do, and the supplies needed for those bridging activities.
4. Plan Your Session
Running a bridging group is like following a recipe – you need to have a concrete laid out plan with some room for flexibility. Start by thinking about the duration of your session. Next, block out increments of time for each component of your session that you plan to carry out (i.e. introductions, discussion, activity, reflection, debriefing, questions). Allow some wiggle room for one-two items on the agenda to take more or less time than expected. List out your agenda along with the time allotted for each item. Make your clients aware of the plan for your session at the beginning and proceed with running your bridging group.
5. Use a Guide
Running bridging groups can be challenging, but there are some excellent guides available that provide examples of activities you can do with your clients and discussion topics to cover. While your own creativity and expertise should be used when providing bridging group therapy sessions, much of the brainstorming and planning work can be done for you by using a guide. One such guide for running bridging group sessions that we recommend is “Cognitive Remediation for Psychological Disorders – Second Edition”. This guide provides in-depth instruction and guidance on the practice of neuropsychological education and remediation therapy (NEAR) and how to effectively run bridging groups. Accessible for clinicians like you, you can purchase and use this guide to learn how to run bridging group sessions in your own practice.
Bridging groups are effective in the therapeutic process to help clients connect their practice of cognitive skills with real-world situations as well as reflecting upon their experiences. Providing bridging group therapy may seem like a daunting task. However, by following the steps in this article you can take the daunting task and simplify it. Organizing and structuring your bridging group therapy sessions will not only make you a more effective therapist, but help your clients get the most out of their time with you. The more opportunities to connect cognitive rehabilitation therapy to real-world life, the better the therapy can help.