As 2023 ramps up, clients are focused on implementing their goals and resolutions. For many, this looks like building social connections, making time for family, and scheduling new or well-loved activities. However, for clients who are depressed, activity planning can feel like a significant hurdle. While it can be daunting, Behavioral Activation is a crucial component of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that helps clients understand how behaviors influence emotions. This knowledge empowers clients to re-engage with the parts of their lives that bring them fulfillment and joy. With the support of a counselor, this activity planning framework helps clients prioritize their wants and needs clearly and interactively.
1. Identify the activities your client wants to participate in
The first step is to get a clear idea of which activities your clients want to do. For depressed clients, this can look like reconnecting with activities that used to bring them joy in the past. Encourage your clients to create a list of hobbies and activities that offer a sense of peace, contentment, or accomplishment.
2. Help them implement activities in their schedule
Next, help your client commit to their identified activities. Find specific times of the week that they can schedule for their hobby and participate in uninterrupted. Note down when, how, and with who they’ll do the activity.
3. Plan for roadblocks
Roadblocks are inevitable when committing to an activity — especially if this is a new hobby. Help your client identify what could get in the way of them following through and spend some time creating realistic solutions to these roadblocks. If your client is more likely to go for a daily walk, suggest they find a walking partner, as socialization will make the new habit more enjoyable.
4. Check-in often
A crucial part of success is checking in with your client. You can do this easily between sessions by utilizing a HIPAA-secure digital homework app — giving your clients an intuitive way to stay accountable. By assigning weekly activities like journaling and emotion check-ins, your clients can report their experiences to you in real-time, making progress tracking a breeze.
5. Make time to reflect
After activity completion, ask your clients to take a few minutes for reflection.
Questions to consider:
- How did they feel before the activity?
- How do they feel after accomplishing their commitment to themself?
- Was there a difference in mood or overall thought patterns?
- Would they like to schedule the same activity, or would they instead replace it with something else?
These questions allow clients to check in with themselves, boost self-trust, and reinstate confidence in their choices.
Keep clients on track with activity scheduling
Activity scheduling is one of the best ways to connect clients to their social circles, increase life satisfaction, and get them engaged with their hobbies again.
A digital homework app like Therachat is an intuitive way to keep clients on track with activity scheduling. It offers a gentle way to give a nudge between sessions and keep counseling top of mind. Learn more about Therachat for clinicians.