Charles C. Dixon, MS, CTRS, Chestnut Ridge Hospital
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Brief Description: This
is an group problem-solving task in which two groups are separated
and given the task of building a working telephone with wires,
a battery, a speaker & a microphone.
Expected Therapeutic Outcome: Participants will experience communication barriers, group
interaction, and creative problem-solving. They will be guided
through this process and learn to better interact in a group
as they achieve common objectives, learn to use problem-solving
techniques, and understand how to overcome communication barriers.
Each of these global outcomes can be then generalized during
the groups "debriefing" session to specific problems
of the group. For example, discussion can be held on how communication
barriers between an adolescent and parents can influence the
teens behavior and feelings and for teens struggling with
suicidal thoughts and other negative thoughts, that family
communications is needed. You can also generalize the experience
& feelings felt by group members to other topics.
- Open session with intro
on creative problem-solving and give them a simple problem
to solve. I usually tell them a story of an 18-wheeler getting
jammed in a tunnel. I ask for different ways to get the
truck out of the tunnel. Of course, the best answer is to
take some air out of the tire and back up the truck. We
then talk about problem-solving and how problem-solving
and this session is related to their particular treatment
- I start the main activity
by building up a scenario in which the group goes to
England on a tour of castles. Walking through a field, they
notice two castles. They break up into two groups. The 1st
group goes to castle on the left and gets kidnapped by and
Evil Castle Lord. Just before being snatched up, the group
was able to get a single word, "Help!" out on
their walkie-talkie to the other group. The 1st group is
put into a room with an electronic door lock with a 4 digit
combination. The 2nd group is now on its way to see what
happened. Unfortunately they get captured also. Since the
room in which the 1st group is too small to hold them all,
the Castle Lord takes the 1st group out & puts them
into another room on the far end of the castle. Fortunately,
the 1st group sees and memorizes the combination of the
electronic door lock. They see the 2nd group tossed into
this room as they round the corner. Now only if they could
communicate with each other and pass the secret 4 digit
- After the story is told, the
group is told that in each room, there are bits and pieces
of items that they might be able to use in their escape
or to communicate with each other. Then, they are given,
3 wires of different color,1 speaker, 1 microphone from
a telephone headset, and a large 6 volt battery.
- The group is told to build
a working telephone that if they would speak into the
mike, they would be able to hear themselves on their own
speaker. After that, they are to connect two wires (phone
wires come with 4 lines.... trim back two so that you only
use two lines) into the phone they made.
- Hints may be given. The group
may need to be guided in group problem-solving process as needed.
- Success in building
a phone and communicating with each group is typical.
- Complete the activity by processing
the groups feelings and experience.
Final Note: The group
usually lasts one hour. If the group experiences difficulty
or has lots to talk about, it will last about 1 1/2 hours.
Enjoy, this has been an activity that I've had great success
with and the patients seem to really enjoy and get a lot out
of it. Oh, by the way, I suppose you'd like to know how to
build a working phone.... here's a diagram.... be sure to
practice it yourself 1st.....