During the past few months, I have come across a few pins on Pinterest for “Gratitude Jars” or “Blessing Jars.” I thought this would be a great idea to share now as Thanksgiving approaches. This would be a great activity to try for yourself or could be a therapy homework idea for children or families.
To create a gratitude jar, find any large jar or container. I like a clear container because it allows you to see the jar filling up as more and more slips of paper are added. Each day, try to find one thing that you appreciate or are thankful for, jot it down on a slip of paper, and add it to the jar. Try doing this for at least a few weeks or even for several months.
Increasing awareness of the positive things in one’s life can help to shift mindset and combat negative thinking. Jocelyn Scotty shares in an article about using gratitude jars in Montessori education about the work of Robert Emmons, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Emmons explains research that shows that cultivating gratitude is one of the biggest contributors to a life with happiness and meaning. As therapists and counselors, this could be a powerful intervention for our clients. Although it can be very beneficial in therapy for clients to have a safe space to share about their problems, challenges, and struggles, it can also be beneficial to help clients recognize positive aspects of their lives.
Using gratitude jars in therapy:
- Individual therapy (adult or child): Suggest a gratitude jar as a commitment or homework assignment for the client. Follow up in therapy sessions to discuss what has been noticed, the process of recognizing gratitude, and any challenges that the client is having with the process. Remind clients that nothing is too small to be thankful for.
- Family therapy: Encourage all family members to participate in the gratitude jar and share with each other everyday about what they have added. This provides an added benefit by setting up a daily opportunity for family members to have positive conversation.
- Therapist self-care: Self-care is essential to prevent burnout in mental health professionals. Try keeping a gratitude jar to increase positivity in your life. Focus on what you are thankful for in general in your life as well as in your counseling practice or workplace.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in mental health, psychotherapy, counseling, art therapy, or play therapy. Although anyone can have a healing experience with art, art therapy requires the direction of a trained art therapist.
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