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Interventions used within individual counseling are dependent upon the counselor/therapist’s orientation, student goals, and progress monitoring. Examples of interventions include:


Building Rapport

Warmth, congruence, empathy, instillation of hope, giving compliments

Reflection of meaning, reflection of content, reflection of feelings, use of open ended questions

Use of humor, use of creativity, games or other activities of interest


Identification of private logic/personal goals/quality life plan

Intake interview, goal setting

Projective Art/Sand tray – perfect world, perfect future, perfect day; house person tree, etc.

Personal timelines

Narrative techniques – the story of me


Identification of strengths

Strengths-finder Activities

Self-assessment forms

Personality/Temperament Inventories

Support Mapping

Identification of adaptive coping skills: processing, planning/problem solving, distraction/relaxation, grounding, emotional release, self-care, thought challenge, acts of service, positive reframing, use of emotional supports, humor/laughter

Identification of mindful attitudes: non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, accepting, letting go

Identification/reinforcement of healthy habits/compliments regarding: Supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, negotiating differences

Identification of mature defense strategies: altruism, anticipation, humor, sublimation, suppression, acceptance, courage, self-regulation, self-sufficiency, forgiveness, gratitude, humility, identification, mercy, mindfulness, moderation, patience, respect, tolerance


Identification of obstacles

Self-assessment forms

ABCDE or WDEP analysis of presenting concern

Maladaptive coping skills: venting, denial, blaming, behavioral disengagement, substance abuse, cutting/ self-injury, over/under eating, escapism, dangerous thrill seeking, self-blame/negative self-talk, other unhelpful thinking strategies (personalization, magnification, etc.)

Ongoing psychoeducation/identification of irrational thinking:

all or nothing, mental filter, jumping to conclusions, emotional reasoning, labeling, over-generalizing, disqualifying the positive, catastrophizing, personalization

Ongoing psychoeducation/identification of unhealthy habits: Criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, bribing or rewarding to control

Identification of immature or neurotic defense strategies:

Immature— Regression, hypochondria, passive-aggression, projection, fantasy, idealization, introjection, somatization, wishful thinking, avoidance

Neurotic/Pathological –Displacement, dissociation, intellectualization, reaction formation, repression, delusional projection, denial, distortion, conversion, hysteria, splitting


Closure activities

Summarization of sessions, goals, and progress noted

Reflection and reinforcement of key practices

Closure activities: message in a bottle, hope box, reminder totems, magical creature, certificate creation, symbolic beaded bracelet, symbolic key chain


Depressed Mood

Task assignments; guided imagery; morning journals and body scans; setting intentions; behavioral intake

Miracle questions; empty chair; musical exploration and analysis; projective art projects; social support mapping; genograms; sand tray; grounding activities

ABCDE analysis, WDEP analysis, thought stopping techniques, cognitive restructuring; positive self-talk

Service activities;

Diet/exercise analysis; rule out medical causes; relaxation techniques; sleep analysis



Replacement activity training

Feelings exploration; six level validation/DBT

Decisional balance sheet

Professional referrals, agreement contracts, coping skills (replacements)




Increasing exposure techniques; relaxation techniques; positive self-talk; mindfulness

Feelings exploration; six level validation/DBT; quality life mapping

Cognitive restructuring; ABCDE analysis; WDEP analysis

Psychoeducation; Parental/teacher involvement and education; self-advocacy strategies


Obsessive thoughts

Mindfulness; relaxation techniques; journaling during thought episodes; replacement actions; behavioral intake

Miracle questions; guided imagery; quality life mapping

Thought stopping techniques; Possibility and probability analysis; cognitive restructuring

Service activities;

Diet/exercise analysis; rule out medical causes; relaxation techniques; sleep analysis


Coping with stress

Creation of stress relief tools (bath bombs, stress ball); relaxation exercises; mindfulness training

Support mapping; genogram; circles of support art; dream/projective art analysis; storytelling; miracle questions

Cognitive triangle worksheets; decisional balance sheet

Psychoeducation on choice theory


Substance abuse

Replacement activity training

Quality life mapping

Brief interventions

Professional referrals


Relationship troubles

Role playing scenarios, empty chair activities

Quality life mapping; social support mapping

Decisional balance sheet

Psychoeducation on relationships, conflict management; social skills training



Guided meditations, relaxation exercises; coping skills activities

Empty chair exercises; musical exploration and analysis; projective art projects; social support mapping; genograms; sand tray; grounding activities; feelings exploration

Cognitive triangle worksheets; scaling instruments

Psychoeducation on grieving process, journaling


Low self-confidence

Positive self-talk, body scans, mindfulness

Narrative techniques; quality life mapping, miracle questions

ABCDE analysis, cognitive restructuring

Self-assessment and discussion


Goal clarification

Goal planning task assignments

Genograms; personal timeline; personal narrative; magic time machine; letter writing to future self; miracle questions; here and now experiences

WDEP analysis; decisional balance worksheets

Career tools;

Self-assessment and discussion


Low self-awareness

Social skills games and activities

Genograms; personality identification and discussion

ABCDE analysis, cognitive restructuring

Self-assessment and discussion


Personal responsibility/school engagement

Organization training; goal planning task assignments

Six level validation; support mapping; genograms; personal timelines

Decisional balance worksheet

Career tools; to-do list creation; celebration of successes; mini-deadlines


Anger management/impulsivity

Mindfulness; replacement activities

Inner child activities; radical acceptance; feelings exploration

ABCDE analysis, WDEP analysis, cognitive restructuring

Replacement activities; safety planning; psychoeducation on anger response


Executive functioning

Organization training; games

Feelings exploration (specifically around emotional regulation)



Self-assessment and discussion; environmental modifications and teaching strategies


Emotional regulation

Mindfulness; coping skills activities; behavioral contract development

Radical acceptance activities; exploration of defense mechanisms/coping skills; projective art; inner child walk; grounding activities

WDEP analysis; cognitive restructuring

Zones of regulation training; self-assessment and discussion


Social skills

Role playing; peer observation with feedback

Personal narrative, sand tray activities, projective art

WDEP analysis; cognitive restructuring

Self assessment and discussion; social skills psycho-education training and practice

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