Impact Therapy, Or In Our World -- Impact School Counseling!

Summary by Freida Trujillo

Impact Therapy is defined as:


… an approach to counseling that shows respect for the way clients learn, change, and develop. The emphasis is on making counseling clear, concrete and thought-provoking, rather than vague, abstract, and emotional. Impact Therapy is a multi-sensory approach which recognizes that change or impact comes from not only verbal, but also visual and kinesthetic exchanges.


Impact therapy is a powerful way for us to engage our Z Generation!  Everyone’s brains, but especially the Z Generation’s brain likes novelty!

Advertisers know how to impact change.  As you know, school counselors wear many hats.  One of the hats Impact Therapy invites us to wear when planning our groups and/or preparing our school counseling program is our “Advertiser’s” hat.


A reminder of the basics for Impact Therapy/School Counseling Groups: 

  •        First, you have to start with your Map.  What is your Map?  Your Map is your theory and best practice framework.

  •        Determine the purpose of the Group or Session and throughout the group keep the group focused on the purpose.  Repeat the purpose of the group as much          as necessary to keep the focus on the purpose. 

  •        Make sure you have chosen your group participants carefully so that you have a group mix that can be successful.  Remember, not every student is                        appropriate for group.

  •        Don’t be a facilitator of the group/individual session, be a leader.  People won’t mind being led if you can lead well. 

  •        Don’t start groups with the rules.  Students hear rules all day.  It’s ok to go over the rules farther into the first session.

  •        Utilize some of the Impact Therapy Props (and others you come up with yourself) to engage the group.

  •        Don’t do individual sessions in the group, keep the focus on the entire group related to the purpose of the group.

  •        Make sure to take student’s deeper than a 7 for the most group impact, but then make sure you bring them back up to a 10.  10 being the top (not deep at               all) and 1 being at the bottom (the deepest).

  •        Make sure you keep track of the time so you use the last 3-5 minutes for closure of the group.


A Few Examples of Props and Their Uses:

  •         A rear view mirror:  Looking in the past instead of looking at the present or future.  How is that serving you?

  •         Rubber band – To establish trust.  I am not here to pop you and this group is not about popping each other.

  •         Poster with the Stages of Change – this shouldn’t be a secret!  This visual helps them to see where they are in the change process and what the next level              of change will look and feel like.

  •         Scale from 1-10, or you can use a tape measure to have student’s physically measure where they are, and where they want to be.

  •         Little child’s chair – for helping students to see and experience when they are stuck in a little child role, attitude or behavior.

  •         Video snip-its to make a point or start a conversation.

  •         Shield – to remind students they need to shield themselves from rumors, people pressing their buttons, etc.

  •         Coke bottle and water bottle to distinguish between clear and cloudy thinking.  *Note, you can also use a jar of sand, water, and colored glitter. 


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