Footsteps - recovery focused exercise

This is a fun way to get a groupthinking about some of the issues in recovery and what has helped or hindered them on their journey.

A large room with plenty of floor space is needed for this exercise, and lots of time if you want to do all three parts of the exercise. Also A4 paper in two different colours, plus marker pens.

Part one - Footsteps

Ask people to think about things that have helped them move on in their recovery journey. They can discuss this in pairs or three's. Then ask them to draw round their feet on a sheet of A4 paper (or to bring prepared foot shapes with them). Ask them to think about some of the following, then write down their ideas on each foot shape:

Moving on

  • What are all the things that have helped you move on?
  • Think about any distress you've experienced - what helped then?
  • Are they things about yourself, other people or members of staff, or maybe family or friends?
  • Think about personal strengths too.

Place each of the foot shapes on the floor scattered round the room so they can be walked on. Ask everyone to walk over them and read what people have written. Perhaps they can think of more to add. Discuss what people have written.

Part two - Barriers

Ask the group to think about the things that stop them from moving on - the blocks and barriers to recovery. These can be external influences such as family, money, medication, or they can be more personal things like confidence or motivation.

Hand out sheets of A4 red paper and black marker pens (or just different coloured paper and red pens). Ask people to fold the paper length ways and write on each sheet anything that is a barrier for them, listing as many as they like. Get them to place these inbetween the footsteps.

Again, ask the group to walk round the room over the footsteps, and look at what people have written.

There are a number of ways you can initiate discussions based on what's been written:

1. Ask people to stand near the footstep they most readily identify with and say why. Then do the same for the barriers.

2. Divide the group up and ask each smaller group to select five of the most important factors written down. Discuss the importance to them of each.

3. Ask the whole group to try and put all the foosteps and barriers into themes, then discuss each theme. 

Part three

Ask the group to form into two groups. Ask them to think about ways they have learnt to push through the barriers or avoid them altogether. What kinds of practical things have they done to help overcome these obstacles. Then ask them to consider how they might share one of these ideas with the other group or demonstrate an example.

To make this more interesting, you could ask them to do this without speaking. Perhaps they can use the footsteps and barriers on the ground to demonstrate, or do a drawing or mime. They can be as creative as they like. You might want to give them some materials or props.


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