Group Therapy Exercises

Human Knot

Description of Icebreaker, Name Game, & Teambuilding Activity

James Neill
Last updated:

Human Knot y y y y a get-to-know-you icebreaker involves close physical proximity can be used as a name game helps a group learn about how to work together

Equipment: None. Time: ~15-20 minutes Brief Description: Standing in a circle, group members reach across and shake hands - use hand connecting to a different person. The group then tries to unravel the "human knot" by unthreading their bodies without letting go of each other people's hands.

y can also focus on group understanding of communication, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, trust, persistence, etc.

y If you want name-learning emphasized. but it can be done with anywhere from about 7 to 16.but it is only just starting. the start of an Outward Bound program). y Stand back and see what happens. y Participants may change their grip so as to more comfortable. y Ideal group size is approximately 10.some will be tempted to think the activity might then be over . However. is excellent for learning names. the more difficult the task. y If there are two or more groups doing the task simultaneously. y There will be a mixture of reactions.. This usually requires supervision and reinforcement by the instructor. into a circle. or social or psychological problems. each time the task is unique. The more in a group.g. then Human Knot could be introduced later in a program. or about someone. ask participants to introduce themselves to the person they are holding hands with. It also usually helps the group to work together and find solution. e. often including nervous laughter. and others who may view the task as a somewhat sadistic or inappropriate joke.g. trepidation. grasp a different person's hand. y Ask participants to each place a hand in the middle of the circle and to grasp another hand. then explain that whenever the group is talking to someone. shoulder-to-shoulder. because their communications and more accurate with names involved. y Then ask participants to put their other hand in the middle. due to culture. Often some group members will have done the task before. y Explain to participants that what you'd like them to do is untangle themselves. that the person's first name must be used. but they are not to unclasp and re-clasp so as to undo the knot. y Don't let participants let go of hands . fun amusement.Set up & instructions y Be aware that the activity involves close physical proximity and touch potentially in sensitive places! It can be used as a first activity in an adventurous program with volunteers (e. y Ask participants to form a circle. strong suspicion that it can't be done. y To emphasize learning of names and get a bit of fun going. and introduce themselves. but once enforced. but this doens't really matter. without letting go of hands. excitement. and partly because there is physically less room to move.. have the groups reasonably spaced out. so they don't feel distracted by a sense of competition. or group members potentially will have significant problems with such proximity. if the program is less adventurous. . partly because of the complexity. Much higher or lower and the task doesn't really work. Encouraging/urging participants to all stand closer can be a subtle way of helping to prepare them for what is about to come.

This can offer this person a significant boost. several times. once the initial unfolding happens.. y It is relatively easy to notice who's talking. Occasionally. really the task is to sort the knot out into its simplest structure. then this needs to reinforced in a friendly. e. and people will often have been pulled in all sorts of directions (literally). However. then you can offer the group one unclasp and reclasp .its usually a bit harder second time around. Facilitator notes y A switched-on facilitator can get a lot of information about participants in a short space of time with this activity. but occasionally there are two or even three interlocking circles. The task should be challenging. the task seems too hard and participants seem to make almost no progress.y Be prepared to see little progress for quite some time (up to 10 minutes). y Most of the time a full circle falls out. but firm way. allowing the group to handle the activity with feeling like they're being too closely observed. Sometimes. a new leader emerges from being in an opportune position in the knot. So. because it can be quite challenging.. helping a couple of people communicate to find a solution to part of the knot. Some people have difficultly enjoying the activity due to their uncomfortableness physically (e. almost everyone gets a positive sense of having played his or her part. who seems comfortable. For this reason. y Slowly wander around the circle. you ask a group to try the task again . y Often this activity speaks for itself as an icebreaker. if you want people to use names in every communication. Also note that sometimes the natural leaders are not in a good position to lead . y However. etc. it should give the group some initial confidence and momentum in being able to work together to solve problems. but especially as an initial activity. This might be encouragement that it can be done (some groups lack confidence and would give up too early). How much to give is a fine balancing act.g. In such cases. the pace towards the final solution usually seems to quicken. y Stay at a moderate distance.too easy. e. Also. Or this might be allowing an unclasp-reclasp. who's not. be prepared to have at least a short debrief. there are also odd times when a very fast solution falls out . Let them struggle for about 10 they try to dominate inappropriately or do they sit back appropriately and just do what they can.they need to discuss and decide what unclasp-reclasp would be most useful. obese. who doesn't. y It is important to provide appropriate help if the activity proves too difficult. by asking "How well did you think the group worked together?" and . the activity is commonly used in group-based selection processes for jobs which involve closely working with others.g. moving in and out as appropriate. because each occasion is unique. However. but maintain good hearing contact and be ready to step in to help answer questions or change the direction of the activity quickly when appropriate.g. or inflexible people may find the activity particularly awkward). very tall.

the brass quartet. Each segment is about a minute long. Make a list of feelings. I have some Tibetan pastoral music. Have a tape made of about 20 segments of music. Have them to work in groups to put ten to twenty words underneath those four categories. bad. and glad. too. and a Greek chant. I have them sit in groups and every three or four tunes I have them compare notes with each other on what they hear. I've added a couple speeches from foreign films. Couple other sad-ish tunes. Here are some suggestions: a couple sections from the CD by Carl Stalling who composed the music for all the Warner Brothers cartoons. a Yiddish tune. sad. Some are two minutes long. . It all takes about an hour and a half. Start with easy stuff. Start with mad. The idea is to write down the emotion being projected by the music. Move from that to a very feel-good blues tune." This is a hard one for them to get. Possibly an upbeat version of Dixie from the Civil War CD by Ken Burns. Finally I end with the "That's all folks" from the Warner Brothers Cartoons."What could have been done differently?" or "What do you think you've learned from this activity which can be applied in future activities?" Listening for feelings First talk about listening for feelings. Then there is a mournful version of Dixie. Pete Seeger singing "My name is Lisa Kalvaledge. Leave the list up. Then ask them for additional categories.

Icebreaker and Get to Know You Activity James Neill Last updated: .2 Truths & a Lie Description of a Name Game.

30+).. y y y y y y y y y A different kind of get-to-know-you activity which is engages and challenges each group member in a fun way Particularly useful as an icebreaker. Who thinks that is a lie? [Vote] I am Time ~15-20 minutes Brief Description People write down two truths about themselves and a lie. e. Allocate 5-8 minutes. 10-15 minutes of conversation time. "I am Turkish.g. The goal is to quiz each about each statement to help determine which are the truth and which is the lie. even if it seems others might have guessed. but you will probably need to urge people along. Announce that we will now walk around and chat to one another. and ask about each other's truths and lies. At the end we will caste our votes and find out the truth. etc. can be used as a opener for a workshop/conference. Emphasize that people should not reveal their lie.g. that's fine) Explain that in this activity each person write two truths and a lie about themself and then we will try to guess each other's lie.. The goal is to: a) convince others that your lie is truth (and that one of your truths is the lie) and b) to correctly guess other people's lies. The slower people will probably need to be urged along to "put anything you can think of" down. whilst seducing other people into thinking that your own lie is a truth. Allow min.there will some scribbling out. e. For large groups (e. it is best to split into smaller group sizes. Then read the statements again. Hand out cards or paper and pens (or if participants bring their own.this isn't easy for a lot of people . Gather together in a circle.g. Then introduce the three "facts" to the rest of the group who tries to guess which one is a lie.2 Truths & a Lie y Equipment None. ~5+ minutes for writing 2 truths & a lie . Allow approx. . Start with one person who reads their three statements aloud (to remind everyone). like a cocktail party. stopping to allow a vote for each one.

Who thinks that is a lie? [Vote]. The facilitator may add drama and reinforcement. Highest score wins (honesty counts!). especially intially until the basic format is understood. etc. my lie was "I am vegetarian. for correct guesses. etc."" The facilitator will need to help each person out. e.. The exercise can be run competitively. .y vegetarian. count up how many correct guesses of other people's lies and take away the number of people who correctly guesses your own lie. Who thinks that is a lie? [Vote] I have a metal pin in my right leg. tricky statements. OK.g.

then ask them to raise their hands to indicate their choice. In one session probably no more than six to ten of these should be done. abstract." Ask students which of the two choices best describes them. Give them time to think.. right brain.Hammer or Nail? Concept: metaphorical. Who is a nail?" Then have them ask others near them why they feel like a hammer or a nail and give them about a minute to discuss their choice. hammers over there) and talk about why they feel the way they do. students might be asked to walk to one area of the room (nails over here. o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o Hammer or nail Racket or ball Child or old man Picasso or DeVinci Jeans or a suit Egg white or egg yolk Sun or moon Cube or ball Present or future Rock group or string quartet Yes or no Mountain or valley Physical or mental Pencil or ball point pen Teacher or student Question or answer Leather jacket or Harris tweed Black or white Leaf or wind Pencil or eraser Earthquake or typhoon Tortoise or hare City or country Dictionary or novel Pen or pencil Agape or Eros Cat or mouse TV or Radio Present or Future . "Who is a hammer?. Think of yourself in non-concrete terms. control over one's life What to do: Explain that this activity is meant as an exercise in abstract thinking. "Use your imagination.. If the class is very small.

the first person in each team is to put on the garden gloves. unwrap it. pull out a piece. chew it.Gum Game Required: Clean garden . FunAttic. and then pass the gloves to the next person. packs of gum Players: Small to large groups Set up teams of five. The first team to complete the task wins. On go. Each team will receive one pair of new garden gloves and one pack of gum (5 pieces per pack). open the package of gum. You can choose to have two packs of gum per team so that they would have to go around twice.