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What Is Therapy Homework?

Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

homework in group

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program.

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Types of Therapy That Involve Homework

If you’ve recently started going to therapy , you may find yourself being assigned therapy homework. You may wonder what exactly it entails and what purpose it serves. Therapy homework comprises tasks or assignments that your therapist asks you to complete between sessions, says Nicole Erkfitz , DSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and executive director at AMFM Healthcare, Virginia.

Homework can be given in any form of therapy, and it may come as a worksheet, a task to complete, or a thought/piece of knowledge you are requested to keep with you throughout the week, Dr. Erkfitz explains.

This article explores the role of homework in certain forms of therapy, the benefits therapy homework can offer, and some tips to help you comply with your homework assignments.

Therapy homework can be assigned as part of any type of therapy. However, some therapists and forms of therapy may utilize it more than others.

For instance, a 2019-study notes that therapy homework is an integral part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) . According to Dr. Erkfitz, therapy homework is built into the protocol and framework of CBT, as well as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) , which is a sub-type of CBT.

Therefore, if you’re seeing a therapist who practices CBT or DBT, chances are you’ll regularly have homework to do.

On the other hand, an example of a type of therapy that doesn’t generally involve homework is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR is a type of therapy that generally relies on the relationship between the therapist and client during sessions and is a modality that specifically doesn’t rely on homework, says Dr. Erkfitz.

However, she explains that if the client is feeling rejuvenated and well after their processing session, for instance, their therapist may ask them to write down a list of times that their positive cognition came up for them over the next week.

"Regardless of the type of therapy, the best kind of homework is when you don’t even realize you were assigned homework," says Erkfitz.

Benefits of Therapy Homework

Below, Dr. Erkfitz explains the benefits of therapy homework.

It Helps Your Therapist Review Your Progress

The most important part of therapy homework is the follow-up discussion at the next session. The time you spend reviewing with your therapist how the past week went, if you completed your homework, or if you didn’t and why, gives your therapist valuable feedback on your progress and insight on how they can better support you.

It Gives Your Therapist More Insight

Therapy can be tricky because by the time you are committed to showing up and putting in the work, you are already bringing a better and stronger version of yourself than what you have been experiencing in your day-to-day life that led you to seek therapy.

Homework gives your therapist an inside look into your day-to-day life, which can sometimes be hard to recap in a session. Certain homework assignments keep you thinking throughout the week about what you want to share during your sessions, giving your therapist historical data to review and address.

It Helps Empower You

The sense of empowerment you can gain from utilizing your new skills, setting new boundaries , and redirecting your own cognitive distortions is something a therapist can’t give you in the therapy session. This is something you give yourself. Therapy homework is how you come to the realization that you got this and that you can do it.

"The main benefit of therapy homework is that it builds your skills as well as the understanding that you can do this on your own," says Erkfitz.

Tips for Your Therapy Homework

Below, Dr. Erkfitz shares some tips that can help with therapy homework:

  • Set aside time for your homework: Create a designated time to complete your therapy homework. The aim of therapy homework is to keep you thinking and working on your goals between sessions. Use your designated time as a sacred space to invest in yourself and pour your thoughts and emotions into your homework, just as you would in a therapy session .
  • Be honest: As therapists, we are not looking for you to write down what you think we want to read or what you think you should write down. It’s important to be honest with us, and yourself, about what you are truly feeling and thinking.
  • Practice your skills: Completing the worksheet or log are important, but you also have to be willing to put your skills and learnings into practice. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to trying new things so that you can report back to your therapist about whether what you’re trying is working for you or not.
  • Remember that it’s intended to help you: Therapy homework helps you maximize the benefits of therapy and get the most value out of the process. A 2013-study notes that better homework compliance is linked to better treatment outcomes.
  • Talk to your therapist if you’re struggling: Therapy homework shouldn’t feel like work. If you find that you’re doing homework as a monotonous task, talk to your therapist and let them know that your heart isn’t in it and that you’re not finding it beneficial. They can explain the importance of the tasks to you, tailor your assignments to your preferences, or change their course of treatment if need be.

"When the therapy homework starts 'hitting home' for you, that’s when you know you’re on the right track and doing the work you need to be doing," says Erkfitz.

A Word From Verywell

Similar to how school involves classwork and homework, therapy can also involve in-person sessions and homework assignments.

If your therapist has assigned you homework, try to make time to do it. Completing it honestly can help you and your therapist gain insights into your emotional processes and overall progress. Most importantly, it can help you develop coping skills and practice them, which can boost your confidence, empower you, and make your therapeutic process more effective.

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Conklin LR, Strunk DR, Cooper AA. Therapist behaviors as predictors of immediate homework engagement in cognitive therapy for depression . Cognit Ther Res . 2018;42(1):16-23. doi:10.1007/s10608-017-9873-6

Lebeau RT, Davies CD, Culver NC, Craske MG. Homework compliance counts in cognitive-behavioral therapy . Cogn Behav Ther . 2013;42(3):171-179. doi:10.1080/16506073.2013.763286

By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

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Benefits of Homework in CBT Online Group Therapy

homework in group

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a well-known and evidence-based therapy that is effective for a wide range of mental health concerns. CBT often involves homework assignments, where individuals are encouraged to practice new skills and strategies outside of therapy sessions to reinforce learning and promote positive behavior change. 

With the rise of online therapy, group therapy sessions have become increasingly accessible and convenient, allowing individuals to participate from their homes. In group therapy sessions, homework can be an incredibly effective tool, as individuals can share their experiences and learn from each other's successes and challenges. This article will explore the benefits of using homework in online group therapy sessions for CBT and how it can help individuals achieve their therapy goals.

Benefits of homework with CBT

There are several reasons why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and homework work well together in an online group therapy environment. Here are several reasons homework is highly beneficial for those taking cognitive behavioral therapy group therapy sessions online.

Reinforcement of new skills

Homework assignments can reinforce new skills and strategies learned in therapy sessions, allowing individuals to apply them in real-life situations. In an online group therapy environment, individuals can share their experiences with their peers and receive feedback and support, which can help them solidify their learning and reinforce positive changes.

Accountability

In an online group therapy environment, individuals are more likely to complete their homework assignments when they know they will share their progress with others. This can lead to greater accountability and motivation and increase the likelihood of achieving therapy goals.

Flexibility

Online group therapy sessions offer flexibility in scheduling and location, making it easier for individuals to attend therapy and complete homework assignments. They can participate from the comfort of their homes at a time that works best for their schedule.

Supportive environment

Group therapy can provide a supportive and validating environment where individuals can share their experiences, learn from each other, and receive peer support. A supportive environment can help reduce feelings of isolation and promote community, which is particularly important in an online setting.

Cost-effective

Online group therapy sessions can be more cost-effective than individual therapy sessions, which may make therapy more accessible to individuals who cannot afford one-on-one therapy. Homework assignments can also be a cost-effective way to practice new skills and strategies, as they do not require additional therapy sessions.

Combining CBT and homework in an online group therapy environment can be a powerful tool for promoting positive change and improving mental health outcomes.

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Homework in Cognitive Behavioral Supervision: Theoretical Background and Clinical Application

1 Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Olomouc, Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University in Olomouc, Olomouc, The Czech Republic

2 Department of Psychology Sciences, Faculty of Social Science and Health Care, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Nitra, The Slovak Republic

3 Department of Psychotherapy, Institute for Postgraduate Training in Health Care, Prague, The Czech Republic

4 Jessenia Inc. - Rehabilitation Hospital Beroun, Akeso Holding, Beroun, The Czech Republic

Ilona Krone

5 Riga`s Stradins University, Riga, Latvia

Julius Burkauskas

6 Laboratory of Behavioral Medicine, Neuroscience Institute, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania

Jakub Vanek

Marija abeltina.

7 University of Latvia, Latvian Association of CBT, Riga, Latvia

Alicja Juskiene

Tomas sollar, milos slepecky, marie ociskova.

The homework aims to generalize the patient’s knowledge and encourage practicing skills learned during therapy sessions. Encouraging and facilitating homework is an important part of supervisees in their supervision, and problems with using homework in therapy are a common supervision agenda. Supervisees are encouraged to conceptualize the patient’s lack of homework and promote awareness of their own beliefs and responses to non-cooperation. The supervision focuses on homework twice – first as a part of the supervised therapy and second as a part of the supervision itself. Homework assigned in supervision usually deals with mapping problems, monitoring certain behaviors (mostly communication with the patient), or implementing new behaviors in therapy.

Introduction

The development of competent clinical supervision is crucial to effectively training new CBT therapists and supervisors and maintaining high therapy standards throughout their careers. 1 Clinical supervision is a basis for CBT training, but there are only a few empirical evaluations on the effect of supervision on therapists’ competencies. Wilson et al 2 in their systematic review and meta-analysis, synthesized the experience and impact of supervision for trainee therapists from 15 qualitative studies. Although supervision leads to feelings of distress and self-doubts, it can effectively support supervisees in personal and professional development. It could similarly harm supervisees’ well-being, clinical work and clients’ experiences. Alfonsson et al 3 published a study to evaluate the effects of standardized supervision on rater-assessed competency in six CBT therapists under protocol-based clinical supervision. This is one of the first investigations showing that supervision affects cognitive behavioral competencies. Although several works have studied the effectiveness of supervision on the therapist’s competence and for the therapist’s work with patients in qualitative studies, 3–7 there is still a lack of studies that dealt with the importance of homework in supervision.

Homework is a vital element of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which distinguishes it from many other psychotherapeutic approaches. 8–10 Patients usually participate in therapy by completing homework assignments and taking responsibility for their course.

Assigning and discussing homework is one of the basic competencies of a cognitive-behavioral therapist and a supervisor in the context of counselling, psychology, therapy, and social work. The manuscript aims to refer to homework in several settings: homework in therapy, supervision of homework in therapy, using the homework by the supervisor for the supervisee, and homework in the training of supervisors.

Homework in Therapy

While specific recommendations for the practical usage of homework have been clearly articulated since the early days of CBT, 11 , 12 practitioners state that they do not follow these recommendations. 13–15 For example, many physicians admit that they forget homework or do not focus on standard specifications when, where, how often, and how long the task should last. Often reported non-cooperation in homework assignments may be due to the practice recommendations being too strict or because students think the amount of homework they can assign is limited. 16

The Sense of Homework in the Therapy

Patients verify methods and skills they learned during the session in real situations and the natural environment. 9 , 17 Through homework, patients also test hypotheses that emerged during the session with the therapist (for example, “If I went out on the street alone, I would be so weak that I would pass out or lose control completely”). Homework help that the important part of the therapy takes place between sessions and allows the patients to become independent and manage their problems even after the end of therapy. 10 , 18 Patients learn how to raise hypotheses and test them in real-life situations. Through completing homework persistently during the therapy, patients gain skills on how to plan their activities and gain new skills, and they also collect a rich source of therapeutic diaries. The investigations advocate that adding homework to CBT increases its efficacy and that patients who constantly complete homework have better outcomes. The outcomes of four meta-analyses highlight the value of homework in CBT:

  • Kazantzis et al 10 inspected 14 studies that compared results for patients allocated to CBT without or with homework. The average patient in the homework group reported better results than about 70% of controls.
  • Outcomes from 16 studies 17 and an updated analysis of 23 studies 19 discovered that higher compliance led to better treatment results among patients who received homework projects during therapy.
  • Kazantzis et al 20 studied the relationships between quantity (15 studies) and quality (3 studies) of the homework to treatment results. The effect sizes were medium to large, and these effects remained fairly constant in a 12-month follow-up.

Therapists strategically create homework to reduce patients’ psychopathology and encourage them to practice skills learned during therapy sessions; nevertheless, non-adherence (between 20% and 50%) remains one of the most cited reasons for decreased CBT efficacy. 21 Several reasons for non-adherence to homework might be pointed out –the therapist does not regularly discuss homework with the patient, the patient no longer considers it important and stop doing it. 9 , 22 Discussing homework also allows the therapist to strengthen the patient’s belief in their ability to achieve certain goals. 23 The fact that the patient has completed the assignment must be properly acknowledged, and then therapists discuss the quality of homework separately. 24 Good questions might be, “How did you do your homework? Were there any difficulties in fulfilling them? What kind?” Furthermore: “How can you handle these problems next time? What did you learn while completing your homework? Can it help you cope with other issues?”

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Homework in the Therapy

Homework is the most effective, and it is most likely to succeed if: 19 , 25

  • Follows logically from the topics discussed during the session and uses the methods that the patient learned during the session;
  • they are clearly and concretely defined, so it is easy to determine whether or to what extent the patient has been successful in fulfilling them (eg, “Leaving the house alone for at least 30 minutes every day”, not “Starting to go out alone”);
  • the patient clearly understands their meaning (“To verify your belief that you will faint on the street” or “See for yourself whether your anxiety will continue to rise, remain the same or subside after a certain time”), and they believe they can achieve the goals;
  • homework is formulated so that failure is impossible because, in any case, the patient will learn something useful that will help them in therapy;
  • the therapist anticipates and discusses obstacles that could hinder the fulfilment of homework and plans procedures to overcome them.

An important aspect of CBT is the patient’s independence. 10 , 18 Homework is typically determined by consensus. To increase the likelihood that the patient will complete the homework, the patient and the therapist should document their assignments in writing. Additionally, it is very convenient for the patient to record the homework, typically pre-prepared. 24 These records serve as a basis for discussing homework in the next session and also allow the therapist to assess the changes achieved during therapy (“A month ago, you were able to go out alone for only half an hour and your anxiety level previously reached level ‘9’, while now you were alone outside for more than an hour and your anxiety do not exceed ‘5’ rated subjectively”).

Because the goal of therapy is to help the patient experience success, the patient’s assigned homework must be feasible. 18 , 26 On the other hand, patients should improve their ability to cope with problems and unpleasant conditions during therapy, they need to exert significant effort to overcome certain unpleasant feelings and emotions. 19 , 20

Even if therapists follow all these rules, they will unavoidably find that sometimes the patient does not complete assigned homework. 20 , 23 In this case, it is required to find out why this happened:

  • whether the patient understood what the task was and what it meant
  • whether mastering this exercise is important and motivated
  • whether unforeseen circumstances prevented them from fulfilling it
  • whether the assigned exercise was not very demanding for them in their current mental state

Therefore, therapists do not consider the non-fulfilment of homework a priori as a manifestation of resistance or lack of moral qualities on the patient’s part, then as a problem that must be solved together.

However, if, despite a thorough discussion of homework and agreement on its completion, the patient repeatedly does not even attempt to complete it, does not bring records and fails to justify non-compliance, it is necessary to return to the problem analysis and goal-setting. We need to clarify with the patient whether the problem they are currently dealing with in therapy is really the most important for them, whether the goal they seek to achieve is sufficiently desirable, and whether the therapist offers to achieve is acceptable. 9 , 20

Most practicing CBT therapists report that they use homework and consider homework important for many problems 14 and believe in the role of homework in improving therapeutic outcomes. 24 , 27 Encouraging and facilitating homework is a basic skill of a CBT therapist; therefore, it is an important part of supervision. 19 , 20 , 26 Homework needs to be carefully assigned and discussed ( Box 1 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Not Completing Homework with an Anxious Patient

Kazantzis et al 28 advise examining the therapeutic relationship, which significantly impacts therapy adherence, to better comprehend non-cooperation with homework assignments. Data illustrating the therapist’s homework competence and the therapy outcome 29 , 30 show that the therapist is primarily responsible for their patients’ adhering to or failing to do homework. CBT therapists exhibit many interrelated automatic thoughts, assumptions, and behaviors during sessions that affect homework use in therapy. 8 , 15 In training, common negative attitudes for therapists include: “Homework will make patients feel like school and resent!” “They will feel too controlled and limited!”; “Homework will increase some ps’ sense of vulnerability!”; or “Homework will be even more stressful for stressed patients!” Another widespread belief is that the “structure” of CBT, whose homework is important, reduces spontaneity and worsens the therapeutic relationship. 15

In addition, there is some scientific support for these views of therapists’ attitudes toward homework concerning the therapeutic process. 31 The result of these attitudes is either a complete avoidance of homework assignments in a way that is not effective and consequently maintains these beliefs. 8 For example, common behaviors require supervision, such as rapidly discussing directions at the end of a session, neglecting to repeat homework, or failing to justify while designing homework. 9 The CBT Homework Project proposed a practice model 29 that emphasizes the importance of therapist beliefs, therapist empowerment, cognitive conceptualization, and the therapeutic relationship in enhancing homework practice. 23

Theoretical and empirical support for homework assignments in CBT leads most practicing CBT therapists to at least accept in principle that regular and systematic homework assignments will benefit their patients. 8 As a result, CBT therapists favour assigning homework in therapy. However, many beginning therapists encounter problems when they start designing homework (ie, selecting tasks and discussing them with the patient), assigning homework (ie, collaborating on practical aspects of completing homework), and repeating homework in sessions. 32 Incorporating homework into therapy is often superficial, hasty, poorly done, or forgotten. 16 Therefore, problems with using homework in therapy are a common supervision agenda of practicing CBT therapists.

Personal Training and Self-Reflection of the Therapist as a Supervision Intervention

CBT training students are encouraged to conceptualize the patient’s lack of homework and promote awareness of their own beliefs and responses to non-cooperation in the CBT conceptual framework. 8 Suppose the therapist fails to develop this awareness. In that case, errors in clinical judgment may occur, adversely affecting the therapeutic relationship and course of therapy. 33 Self-exercise (practicing CBT techniques and interventions as a therapist) and self-reflection (ie, process reflection) are concepts developed by Bennett-Levy et al, 34 to operationalize a useful understanding of own processes in working with patients. CBT training students are asked to become accustomed to using self-exercise and self-reflection. In a few qualitative studies, self-exercise and self-reflection have proven to improve the therapist’s self-concept, ie, self-confidence, perceived competence in one’s abilities and belief in the effectiveness of the CBT model. 34–36 Calvert et al 37 study checked the use of meta-communication in supervision from supervisees’ perspectives using the Metacommunication in Supervision Questionnaire (MSQ). There were differences in the reported frequency with which the different types of meta-communication were used. It appears that meta-communication around difficult or uncomfortable feelings in the supervisory relationship occurs less often than other components of meta-communication. 1

Below are examples of self-exercise and self-reflective exercises. The following self-assessment is developed to shape thinking before a preliminary meeting with a supervisor. Earlier knowledge has shown that supervisees and supervisors do not always share common ideas about supervision. Therefore, the supervisee could finish this self-assessment as a homework exercise before supervision. A supervisee might want to identify conversation matters that may enable a supervisor to better comprehend their requirements and needs.

Before Starting

Questions regarding previous and desired experience in supervision.

What background information do you think your supervisor requires to understand you at the start? (This may include a curriculum vitae noting appropriate previous experience). What would be the best method to convey these details? Is there any distinction between what you desire from this placement and what you feel you need? What background details about this placement and this supervisor do you have? How does this make you feel? Exists any more information that you need? What do you want and expect your supervisor to concentrate on during supervision? What roles do you want your supervisor to play with respect to you and your work? What supervisory media do you want to experience (for example, taped, “live”, or reported)? What do you intend to do about your feelings? Consider how you feel about your supervisor evaluating your work at the end of the positioning process.

More Specific Questions

  • What specific activities during supervision do you recall as being helpful?
  • What conditions would be most convenient for you?
  • What would you personally anticipate getting from being supervised?
  • However, what would you want to receive from supervision prepared that will not be on offer?
  • What could you do about this?

Several possible tough issues can appear in supervision. The following list includes concerns the supervisee might consider ( Table 1 ).

Difficulties in Previous Supervisions (Adapted According to Scaife 2019 38 )

In the next step:

  • Recognize the two issues which seem to be the most important ones for you.
  • What steps can be taken now to minimize the chances that these two concerns will seriously disrupt your cooperation?

Reflection on the Strengths

What are the top three strengths you want your supervisor to uncover as you enter this supervisory relationship?

List 3 points for your development that may or might not be obvious to your supervisor.

Reflection on Difficulties

Therapists regularly discover face-to-face contact with people labelled by society as coming from a specific sub-group.

Which sub-groups make you feel uneasy for whatever reason? Do you want to address this during supervision? 38

Examples of Self-Assessment in the Supervision Process

Exploring sources of stress from clinical work.

Check all that resonate for you. 39

❑ Perfectionism ❑ Fear of failure ❑ Self-doubt ❑ Need for approval ❑ Emotional depletion ❑ Unhealthy lifestyle

Which of them seems to have the greatest impact on your stress levels?

What supervisor has most regularly identified as weak points in your clinical work?

Processing Mistakes

When mistakes are processed in ways that lead to reflection, flexibility, and adjustments in how you function, it can result in learning and growth.

Consider a patient you are now working with (or have recently worked with) with whom you have experienced a therapeutic failure.

Answer the following questions while keeping this experience in mind:

  • What are the signs of a therapeutic failure? How can you be certain that what you are doing is not beneficial on some level? What benefits might your patient derive from failure? When did things begin to deteriorate? Which initiatives have been most effective so far, and which have been least effective? How have you been careless?
  • Examine your intervention choices as well as how they were carried out:
  • What concerns or considerations did you overlook? What is impeding your ability to be more effective? How has your empathy and compassion for this individual been harmed? How can you use this experience to help you grow?

Reflection of Therapeutics Mastery Skills

Favorite techniques.

  • Explain three things you have put off in your career or life because they appear risky—you have something to lose and gain.
  • Which therapeutic strategies or interventions stimulate you the most?
  • What would you call your “hidden weapon”?
  • What kind of patients or presenting difficulties interest you the most?
  • What would it take to incorporate more of the pleasure and satisfaction you receive when applying the strategies mentioned earlier into other aspects of your work? 39

The following examples from clinical supervision demonstrate how self-exercise and self-reflection can help participants understand their belief system’s impact on homework in CBT.

Supervision of Homework in Therapy

Supervision is classically mandatory for students in cognitive behavioral training and plays a crucial part in therapist development. 2 The typical structure of continuous supervision of one patient includes discussing questionnaires or scales used to measure the severity of the problem (like the Beck depression inventory), homework, events in therapy since the last session, and then discussing the agenda of the current supervision meeting (what will be done in the session, which problem will be addressed), work on a selected issue or problems, homework assignment, session summary and its evaluation by the supervisor. The supervision focuses on homework twice – first as a part of the supervised therapy and second as a part of the supervision itself ( Box 2 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Patient´s Homework During Supervision

Whether and how the patient completes homework is a common supervisory issue ( Box 3 ). The therapist often complains that the patient refuses to do homework or rarely does it. 8 , 16

Recording of Paul’s Automatic Thoughts

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is PRBM-15-3809-g0001.jpg

The picture describes the vicious circle of countertransference reaction, where automatic thoughts lead to developing negative emotions, bodily reactions and behaviors. Any vicious circle components can alert the therapists that their countertransference reaction is taking place.

Case Vignette –Discussion of Setting Homework During Supervision

Homework in Supervision

Homework assignments are a common part of supervisory work. These may involve the patient’s management (eg noticing on their recording how often the therapist strengthens the patient and how and if it is rare to clarify where reinforcement would be appropriate), working on oneself (eg clarifying experiences and attitudes that lead to countertransference in a particular patient, awareness of which other patients may also occur) and theoretical study (the supervisor may advise the therapist to read a professional text that can help better understand and work with the patient). 40

The supervisor helps define a specific engagement, discusses specific therapeutic methods, touches on what methods the therapist has used and what else they may consider the role, for the most part, the implementation of strategies whose ability to use in therapy under supervision will be planned, as part of homework.

Homework assigned in supervision usually deals with mapping problems (supplementing the conceptualization of the case, evaluation, vicious circle of the problem with the patient, etc.), monitoring certain behaviors (mostly communication with the patient), or implementing new, behaviors in therapy (usually using therapeutic strategies). 12 Homework teaches the supervisee to work on self-reflection outside the supervision meetings. 41 Discussing the homework properly at the beginning of the session is important. The mentioned home exercises usually concern the work with the supervised case report of the patient. The basic questions concern homework results, discussing the obstacles in solving them and what the supervisee learned in homework. 8 The discussion gives the supervisor case management information and can point to important practice moments.

Homework Assignment

Before the end of the session, the supervisor and the supervisee agree on a homework assignment. It is optimal when homework arises from a problem addressed in the session’s main part. 8 At the beginning of supervision, proposals for homework assignments usually come from the supervisor and are discussed and recorded in writing. 40 During supervision, the supervisee creates homework assignments, and the content is discussed with the supervisee.

The Meaning of Homework

Homework must make sense for the supervisee; otherwise, he will have no motivation to do it. However, it is also important to make sense of the patient or patients and develop the therapist’s skills and competencies. It is desirable to discuss the meaning of homework in supervision.

Possible Difficulties When Completing Homework

It is advantageous to discuss the anticipated difficulties in completing homework. This has the advantage that the supervisee can prepare for possible difficulties, consider overcoming them and consult with the supervisor. Discussing difficulties helps the supervisee model and later develops the skill to discuss the patient’s homework difficulties.

The Impact of the Therapist’s Belief System

In some therapists, there can be reasons for a more complex level of conceptualization. 42 That is important when the therapist repeats certain mistakes even though they have repeatedly discussed them with the supervisor. At a directly accessible level, the situation with the patient can be described using a vicious circle. The deeper “hidden” level refers to the core beliefs and conditional rules activated in a specific situation with the patient. 40 , 43 A supervisor can use the “falling arrow” technique to map core beliefs and conditional assumptions. 43

One such way is the Therapeutic Belief System (TBS). 44 TBS is a theoretical model useful for understanding the specific beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors that therapists and patients commonly experience that could potentially affect the course of therapy. In line with the cognitive model, TBS provides a framework for identifying therapists’ and patients’ beliefs about themselves, each other, the treatment process, the emotions these beliefs can evoke, and typical behavioral reactions. For example, a therapist may see a patient as an “aggressor”, a “helpless victim”, or a “collaborator”. The participant’s own beliefs may supplement these beliefs about himself, such as “victim”, “co-worker”, “carer”, or “rescuer”. Homework assignments may be perceived by both the therapist and the patient as “hopeless”, “productive”, or simply maintaining the status quo and lead to a different emotional and behavioral response. 8 Thus, TBS can be introduced into supervision to guide the supervisee to consider whether he or she identifies with any of the therapists’ typical beliefs and behaviors outlined in the model. A simple awareness of such patterns can be a useful orientation when considering the role of attitudes and beliefs in integrating homework ( Box 4 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Supervisee Homework

The scheme broadly refers to mental structures that integrate and give meaning to events. 45 Schemes can be positive, negative or neutral. In CBT as a treatment for psychological disorders, we focus on dysfunctional patterns often associated with specific diagnostic presentations (for example, emotional vulnerability patterns are common in anxiety disorders). Schema is generally defined as a ubiquitous topic of cognitive functions, emotions, physiological feelings about oneself, and relations with others. 33

Therapists’ schemes run in specific therapies and do not usually signal mental health problems. 8 Therapists’ schemes are influenced by the following factors: training experiences, such as supervision and training phase, therapy model, peer group, clinical experience, and personal experience. 13 , 40 Once identified, the therapist’s scheme can be used in supervision as a starting point to discuss some of the practitioner’s views that may interfere with therapy. 8 Completing structured questionnaires can identify participants’ schemes, basic beliefs, and assumptions. Some examples of useful questionnaires are the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, 46 the Personal Faith Questionnaire, 47 the Young Schema Questionnaire 48 and the Therapists’ Schema Questionnaire. 49 Leahy’s Therapists’ Scheme Questionnaire is a relatively straightforward screening technique for identifying therapeutic patterns that could affect a therapeutic relationship. It consists of 46 assumptions related to the 14 most common therapeutic regimens.

Certain schemes are particularly common in CBT supervisees. These include “demanding standards”, “excessive self-sacrifice”, and “special superior person”. 49 Training therapists who identify with the “demanding standards” scheme have a somewhat obsessive, perfectionist, and controlling approach to therapy. These therapists usually have high expectations for keeping a patient’s homework and may not realize that non-compliance with homework is often part of the learning process. Therapists may expect that there is a “right” way to complete a homework assignment, leading to feelings of frustration when assignments produce different results. This may signify insecurity and a notion that if things break from the planned structure, the therapist will be exposed as “incompetent”. Many therapists identify with the “excessive self-sacrifice” pattern, the most commonly observed pattern in both novice and experienced therapists. 33 Leahy 49 proposes that these therapists overstate the importance of their patient relationships. They may fear leaving or feel guilty that they are or feel better than the patient. As a result, the therapist may engage in therapy-defeating behaviors, such as making the homework assignment to the patient’s various needs, having difficulty with appropriate assertiveness in discussing persistent patient non-cooperation, and having a tendency to avoid techniques. Such as exposure or opening of painful memories for fear that the patient will be upset.

Novice therapists who identify with the “special superior person” scheme see the therapeutic situation as an opportunity to achieve excellent results and have high-performance expectations. There may be a tendency for the patient to idealize or, conversely, to devalue or distance himself from patients who do not improve or do their homework. The presence of a “special superior” scheme can be seen as overcompensation in response to “demanding standards” and “excessive self-sacrifice”, which have the thematic connotations of “not being good enough”. The supervision session sets the supervisee in a situation where the supervisor supervises homework through videotaped therapeutic sessions utilizing a cognitive therapy scale (CTS). 50 Feelings of superiority and exceptionality can, in some cases, be a way of dealing with the feelings of inferiority that they experience, that their use of homework is judged in this way.

In addition to recognizing the general responses to the scheme that most training students encounter, the supervisor should help the supervisor become aware of his or her idiosyncratic beliefs and coping styles, which some patients may trigger ( Box 5 ). The supervisor should encourage the supervisee to pay special attention to the “overlapping patterns” in which the therapist’s scheme and the patient’s scheme overlap, leading to the over-identification of the therapist with the patient. 33

Case Vignette – The Supervisor Advises the Therapist to Work with Core Beliefs and Conditional Rules

Homework in Supervisor Training

For supervisors, their supervisors’ training is important. An important part of this training is the practice of self-reflection, which should be requested directly in the meeting and as homework. It can be a task to capture situations in supervision in which they do not feel comfortable using the vicious circle, cognitive restructuring of automatic negative thoughts in these situations, capturing thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and behaviors in situations where they are aware that they are experiencing countertransference reactions to the supervised therapist. It is also important that in their homework, they reflect on their concentration level during supervision sessions and consider what supervision skills they have used or what they have learned for the next session. A typical complex homework in supervision training is a video recording of supervision sessions and their analysis. The recorded supervision and analysis are then analyzed in the next supervision training meeting.

This article is designed as an overview of views and experiences. Its important element is work samples. This is also a limitation of this article. Assignment of homework in supervision and therapist and supervisor training lacks scientific information about its effectiveness. Nevertheless, assigning homework is an important part of cognitive behavioral therapy. We know quite well about its meaning in prescribing for patients. Less is known about their meaning and effectiveness in supervision. The supervisee encounters problems completing homework assignments for her patients that she brings to the supervisee. Why the patient does not complete the homework may be his problem, but his therapist may also have a part in it his requirements, which include how the homework is assigned, its suitability for the given patient, timing, and complexity. Homework can also belong to the training of supervisors and the supervision of supervision. Here, we do not know any research evidence about their effectiveness in using the most important part of supervision, the patient; however, they are experienced by supervisors and supervisees as useful and meaningful.

Homework in supervision and supervision requires further reflection on their meaning and subsequent research, which should examine their significance for the supervisee’s competence (supervisee) and the ultimate impact on the patient himself.

Homework presents one of the cornerstones of cognitive-behavioral therapy, CB supervision and the training of CBT supervisors. If applied consistently and collaboratively, homework enhances therapeutic outcomes and increases the patient’s self-confidence. Setting and maintaining a fruitful working alliance for homework can be challenging – issues with homework present one of the common reasons to seek a supervisory consultation. Supervision then focuses on examining the specific case and experienced problems, factors in the interaction between the therapist and their patient, and the therapist’s automatic thoughts, schemas, and behaviors that might maintain the issue. There are several ways to address this topic in supervision. Homework is usually part of supervision because of its usefulness. The supervised therapist may be given similar tasks as the patient receives in therapy: to describe the automatic thoughts that occur to him while guiding the patient, to test them and look for a more rational response, to conduct behavioral experiments, to clarify the core beliefs and conditioned assumptions that influence the formation of the therapeutic relationship, experiments with adequate communication with the patient and others. A therapist’s self-experience through practice can help them improve their therapeutic work.

Acknowledgments

This paper was supported by the research grant VEGA no. APVV-15-0502 Psychological, psychophysiological and anthropometric correlates of cardiovascular diseases.

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

Joel Minden, PhD

How Much Does Homework Matter in Therapy?

What research reveals about the work you do outside of therapy sessions..

Posted April 16, 2017 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

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Homework is an important component of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based treatments for psychological symptoms. Developed collaboratively during therapy sessions, homework assignments may be used by clients to rehearse new skills, practice coping strategies, and restructure destructive beliefs.

Although some clients believe that the effectiveness of psychotherapy depends on the quality of in-session work, consistent homework during the rest of the week may be even more important. Without homework, the insights, plans, and good intentions that emerge during a therapy session are at risk of being buried by patterns of negative thinking and behavior that have been strengthened through years of inadvertent rehearsal. Is an hour (or less) of therapeutic work enough to create change during the other 167 hours in a week?

Research on homework in therapy

Research on homework in therapy has revealed some meaningful results that can be understood collectively through a procedure called meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a statistical summary of a body of research. It can be used to identify the average impact of psychotherapy homework on treatment outcomes across numerous studies. The results of four meta-analyses listed below highlight the value of homework in therapy:

  • Kazantzis and colleagues (2010) examined 14 controlled studies that directly compared treatment outcomes for clients assigned to psychotherapy with or without homework. The data favored the homework conditions, with the average client in the homework group reporting better outcomes than about 70% of those in the no-homework conditions.
  • Results from 16 studies (Kazantzis et al., 2000) and an updated analysis of 23 studies (Mausbach et al., 2010) found that, among those who received homework assignments during therapy, greater compliance led to better treatment outcomes. The effect sizes were small to medium, depending on the method used to measure compliance.
  • Kazantzis et al. (2016) examined the relations of both quantity (15 studies) and quality (3 studies) of homework to treatment outcome. The effect sizes were medium to large, and these effects remained relatively stable when follow-up data were collected 1-12 months later.

Taken together, the research suggests that the addition of homework to psychotherapy enhances its effectiveness and that clients who consistently complete homework assignments tend to have better mental health outcomes. Finally, although there is less research on this issue, the quality of homework may matter as much as the amount of homework completed.

To enhance the quality of homework, homework assignments should relate directly to a specific goal, the process should be explained with clarity by the therapist, its method should be rehearsed in session, and opportunities for thoughtful out-of-session practice should be scheduled with ideas about how to eliminate obstacles to completion.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory .

Kazantzis, N., Deane, F. P., & Ronan, K. R. (2000). Homework assignments in Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy: A meta‐analysis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 7(2), 189-202.

Kazantzis, N., Whittington, C., & Dattilio, F. (2010). Meta‐analysis of homework effects in cognitive and behavioral therapy: A replication and extension. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 17(2), 144-156.

Kazantzis, N., Whittington, C., Zelencich, L., Kyrios, M., Norton, P. J., & Hofmann, S. G. (2016). Quantity and quality of homework compliance: a meta-analysis of relations with outcome in cognitive behavior therapy. Behavior Therapy, 47(5), 755-772.

Mausbach, B. T., Moore, R., Roesch, S., Cardenas, V., & Patterson, T. L. (2010). The relationship between homework compliance and therapy outcomes: An updated meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 34(5), 429-438.

Joel Minden, PhD

Joel Minden, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, author of Show Your Anxiety Who’s Boss , director of the Chico Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and lecturer in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Chico.

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Why Do Some Therapists and Coaches Assign Homework In Between Sessions?

Caitlin harper.

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When you start therapy or coaching, you probably expect to be doing most of the work in-session, working directly with your amazing coach or therapist. But what happens when the session ends?

If you’re just starting your therapy or coaching journey, it might surprise you to find that many therapists and coaches assign homework in between sessions, and it’s even an integral part of certain types of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. 

“It’s important to learn and fully understand the skills we explore during sessions and it is equally important to know how to apply those skills in your real life situations,” says Irene Chin, a therapist and MyWellbeing community member. “When I assign ‘homework’ it is to foster positive change in your life slowly but surely. However, the amount of homework can be tweaked to best fit your needs.”

If your school graduation days are behind you, you might think your homework days are long gone as well. But in this new stage of your learning and development, that might not be the case! Here are a few of our therapists and coaches on why they might assign homework in between sessions and what it might look like for you.

Why do coaches and therapists assign homework in between sessions?

Many times, therapists and coaches will assign homework so that you can practice the skills you explored during your session in the “real world.”

“While we work together on developing insight during our sessions, it’s between sessions when you have the opportunity to put these insights into practice in your life,” says Christine Carville. “Being able to take home specific tools to use in tough situations or emotionally charged moments allows for you to experience the learning and gain confidence. It’s like learning a language—you can go to class once or twice a week but it takes using the language on a daily basis to become fluent and confident. In a lot of ways, therapy is learning the language of emotional intelligence and in-vivo experience is vital.”

Some therapists and coaches find that assignments or other exercises to practice in between sessions can help clients gain a sense of continuity and growth as their therapy or coaching journey progresses.

“I have found that often people leave sessions feeling elated, unburdened, and with an increased sense of comfort and clarity,” says Sky Koltun. “Sometimes this experience can feel difficult to hold onto between sessions. I am always prepared to work with people to create a sense of continuity between sessions or come up with ways to hold or continue to cultivate what they feel they have gained from the work we do in the session. I have often recommended books, writing/journaling exercises, breathing, and meditation techniques, and help clients to create their own practices.”

Therapists and coaches who do assign homework sometimes believe that most of the work actually happens outside the session where you can apply what you learn when you worked together.

“I do assign work in any form that works best for you,” says Hannah Evans. “I can provide handouts and worksheets, book recommendations, journal prompts, behavior change activities to engage in, etc. Both you and I will discuss how the homework or activity went, exploring your thoughts, feelings, and interpretations to progress towards your therapy goals. There are 168 hours in a week and change will not occur in the one hour we meet each week. Therefore, most of the work for therapy happens outside of session where you apply the skills learned in session.”

In many situations, what you put into it is what you get out of it, and therapy and coaching are often no different. The more work you do outside of your sessions, the better your results can be.

“I always tell clients that coming to therapy and/or coaching is a bit like buying a gym membership: it's great that you have committed to bettering yourself, but you have to be patient and you have to be ready to put in consistent work to see results,” says William Hasek. “If you are only engaging in self-reflection for one hour a week with me, I don't think that will be of great benefit to you—just like you won't see many benefits if you only go to the gym one hour a week. You have to put in the time and energy outside of our sessions to experience the benefits.” 

But all of our coaches and therapists agree on one thing, and that is that you and your therapist or coach will work together to find what works best for you.

“I don't like to simply ‘assign’ activities for you to do outside of session because I want you to be active in creating solutions and committing to action, says William. “We will develop these activities collaboratively so you have a voice in the changes you are undertaking.”

What are some types of homework therapists or coaches might assign?

While homework can be worksheets or journaling, you might be surprised how varied and creative your “assignments” can be!

“Sometimes the homework can look like ‘Try to take note of what is happening before and after your anxiety sets in,’” says Evelina Rodriguez. “Other times I may offer an article, book, or activity to continue processing over the course of time between sessions.”

The homework doesn’t always look like “work” either.

“If you are struggling with burnout, I would encourage you to think about one simple yet pleasurable activity such as listening to  soothing music and schedule this specific event at a certain time of day,” says Catherine Kim.

In fact, homework often looks a lot like “real life,” which is kind of the point.

“Homework helps to reinforce skills discussed and practiced in session,” says Fanteema Barnes. “Assignments can range from completing worksheets, practicing mindfulness techniques, socializing, going on a date, reflecting on what we discussed in session, giving yourself compliments daily, engaging in a hobby, reading an article, purchasing a self-help book, watching a video or TED talk, or even having a conversation with a loved one.”

Leora Mandel gives a few more creative homework examples: 

  • Free-form journal entries or letter writing 
  • Planned pleasant events, such as attending a concert, cooking a favorite meal, making time to listen to a podcast, or paint
  • Executing a plan brainstormed by you and I, such as beginning a new habit, reaching out to a person, beginning an application, or making a list
  • Recording events to identify patterns—what time of day do negative thought spirals occur, and how often? Are there any recurring triggers? 
  • Exercises with instructions involving the learning of a tool, such as a distress tolerance skill, and reflection of your experience practicing it

And your homework doesn’t have to stay the same—as you progress through your therapy or coaches journey, your assignments might change as you do.

“At the start of treatment, homework mostly consists of reflecting on behaviors, examining thoughts, and understanding relational and coping patterns,” says Shari Norton. “Toward the middle of treatment, homework may consist of practicing skills between sessions and through activities such as journaling. As treatment comes to an end, homework becomes less frequent, and consists of reflecting on changes that occurred from the start of sessions.

Again, your therapist or coach will work with you to determine the best course of action for you at that particular time in your life.

“Some people find the process of additional homework to be stress-inducing, adding yet another thing to their already piled-high list, and if this is the case then I might just ask the client to take a mental picture of something that happened to bring into the next session, maybe something around a triggering event, a dream, or just a thought that they keep ruminating about,” says Andrea Yuen-Sing Chan. “For others, homework helps to ease the transitions between sessions and to make the person feel as if they are doing something. In this case, because it can reduce anxiety and is also therapeutically useful, I will ask for journal entries, or to practice behavioral interventions and then to notate them in a journal. Occasionally I suggest a book or article that might be helpful to the client.”

Does every therapist or coach assign homework in between sessions?

If the idea of homework isn’t appealing to you, that’s totally fine too—not all coaches and therapists are into it either.

“I do not assign homework,” says Shaina Ferguson. “I believe that each of us have different ways of processing what may come up in therapy. You may find yourself reflecting upon the content of sessions outside of sessions and may want to journal or process through art or movement. You may choose to bring writing or other forms of expression into therapy and that is welcomed, but no formal homework will be assigned.”

Some therapists and coaches won’t assign you homework, but you’re more than welcome to develop exercises yourself and share them with your coach or therapist in-session.

“I believe that therapy has to be client-centered and based on your personal experience, not out of a book or on a worksheet,” says Autumn Potter. “I may ask you to take notice of certain experiences outside of a session or ask you to collect specific art materials. That being said, I also have clients who have come up with their own homework, such as ‘this week I am going to refrain from using Instagram.’ I believe that the directive coming from the client holds significantly more power than something I would assign.”

Homework doesn’t always fit with the kind of care you’re receiving, and that’s okay. But self-reflection is usually encouraged!

“I find that assigning homework does not fit well with my style of work which is more focused on expression of, and reflection on, feelings and thoughts within a supportive therapy relationship in order to build a level of insight that I feel can ultimately produce meaningful changes,” says Michael Nettis-Benstock. “At the same time, I feel that our work doesn’t stop at the end of the session and I always encourage you to reflect on what we discuss in our sessions throughout the week, but not in a way that feels like an assignment.”

Not everyone loves the word homework and your therapist or coach might call it something else entirely

“Part of the co-created coaching process depends on ‘fieldwork’ or homework in between sessions where clients are accountable for making real-world progress on short- and long-term goals,” says Ilysse Rimalovski.

“Oftentimes I assign small tasks in between sessions,” says Jordyn Norman. “I feel this is a good way to be able to measure progress.”

“I will at times assign what I like to call ‘projects’ in between sessions,” says Pam Skop. “The reason that I do this is that the real work happens outside of therapy. I generally meet with clients once a week for forty-five minutes and a lot can be discussed at that time, but it is what they do with that once they leave my office that leads to lasting changes. We will discuss the ‘project’ at the next session and use it as a learning tool to move forward.”

“Any ideas for tasks between sessions arise from our conversations during the session,” says Alena Gerst. “As you reveal to me what you feel you are lacking, we find ways to begin to slowly and intentionally integrate what you are searching for into your life. I call these tasks ‘Marching Orders’ (referring to the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron). Occasionally, these ‘assignments’ may feel challenging as you come to terms with what is true for you. But usually they are designed to unlock creativity, joy, and delight.”

“As a former teacher, I know that the word ‘homework’ might make some cringe, so I prefer to call it ‘practice,’” says Alison Abrams. “Time between sessions is priceless. It provides you with more time to extend the learning you do in our sessions into the real world.”

“There definitely will be times when I may make recommendations for ‘homework’ (or as I like to refer to it, ‘a challenge’) depending on what we're working through or if I think it could be relevant or helpful,” says Faith Bowen. “I typically don't do this every session—unless that is something you'd like.”

“I believe that I'm not here to help you grow just during the sessions but I want the growth and change to be sustainable in the long run,” says Kimberly Weimer. “I typically will cater your 'homeplay' (homework) around self-care tasks that you are interested in. This might include meditation, journaling, a gratitude practice, breathwork, yoga or some form of exercise. I will encourage readings, podcasts, and activities that fit with your struggles and goals.”

“For example if you have OCD you will have exposure exercise,” says Kimberly. “If you struggle with anxiety or depression you might have a thought journal and mindfulness exercises. If you are struggling with self-esteem or imposter syndromes you will likely be assigned affirmations and self love exercises. Homeplay is not mandatory but encouraged. I want you to have the skills to maintain the ‘new you’ long term and continue in your growth process even after we are no longer working together."

In the end, your therapist or coach is going to do what is right for you

“Our activities depend on your goals, what motivates you, and what has worked in the past,” says Krissi Franzen. “Most of our assignments involve being curious and experimenting, whether it's with coping strategies, grounding techniques, or practicing communication skills. If you're freaked out by homework, don't fret! If it's not a strategy that is successful for you, let's find things that do work!”

Mainly, you and your therapist or coach will work together to figure out what’s best. Be sure to share what’s working and not working for you so can find the best way forward for you.

“This is a conversation that we will have together!” says Em Kane. “If you're someone who enjoys being given homework and tasks for outside of sessions I can make that a component of our work. For others though this just adds stress, so it isn't necessary!”

Your therapist or coach is there to support you so you can get the care you deserve. Through your collaborative relationship, you can discuss how they can best facilitate your therapy or coaching journey. If you’re ready to get started, find your perfect match now. Still not sure if you might benefit from therapy or coaching? Our quiz might help.

“For some clients, homework is enjoyed, embraced and needed, however, not all clients like this,” says Christina Viera. “As a result, it is our job (client and therapist) to discover what works best for you, so that you can get the most out of therapy.”

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Recommended reading, why it is important to find the right therapist for you, 4 ways to build and manage resilience, what is cognitive behavioral therapy - insomnia.

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About the author

Caitlin is an organizational change strategist, advisor, writer, and the founder of Commcoterie, a change management communication consultancy. She helps leaders and the consultants who work with them communicate change for long-lasting impact. Caitlin is a frequent speaker, workshop facilitator, panelist, and podcast guest on topics such as organizational change, internal communication strategy, DEIBA, leadership and learning, management and coaching, women in the workplace, mental health and wellness at work, and company culture. Find out more, including how to work with her, at www.commcoterie.com .

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The importance of homework in therapy

by Elyssa Barbash | Jul 25, 2018 | change , growth , Self-improvement , success , Therapy , Uncategorized , worry | 0 comments

homework in group

Not all therapists assign homework, but many do – even if they don’t call it “homework.” Homework in therapy is not meant to be busy work. This is not school, after all. But rather, any assignments given during the course of therapy are intended to supplement and benefit the therapeutic process.

There has been significant research conducted on the use of homework in therapy. Findings consistently indicate that homework maximizes the benefit of therapy and allows clients to realize gains in their life.

At the beginning of therapy, homework is a topic that I review with all of my patients. However, there still comes the times where I have to re-review the importance of homework with my patients after they share they have not completed their work!

Purpose of Homework

Homework in therapy is intended to allow the person to implement the strategies that are being learned in therapy so that they can actualize the changes and gains they are seeking to make in their life. I like to put it this way: therapy sessions do not consume a very large portion of your life. At most, we are talking about 45 to 50 minutes out of your week that you are in a therapy session. While the therapy session lays the foundation for the changes to occur in your life, the actual therapy session is such a small portion of your time and is a false reality.

The place is where you will actually see the gains and progress being made is in your every day life.

This is where homework comes in. To maximize the value of therapy, homework helps you to implement the strategies being learned in your life so you can actually see changes. Homework is usually skills oriented, though not always. When it is skills oriented, it teaches the person how to deal with their problems on their own and not have to rely on their therapist. (Bonus: Any ethical therapist will approach treatment in this way. However, not all therapies are intended to be skills building so this is not to say that those therapist to don’t assign homework are unethical!).

Benefits of Homework

Remember, this is not school. Homework being assigned is not being given to you to keep you busy. If your therapist assigned the homework, it is with the best intentions that what they are asking you to do is going to help you. It is also likely to lead to shortened treatment times, which means overall reduced costs related to treatment and less time dedicated to the therapy process in the long run.  

A Strong Indication of your commitment to Therapy, and to yourself

Finally, completing your homework is an indication of your commitment to therapy, which is a greater indication of your commitment to yourself. When you do not follow through and complete your homework, the message that you are sending is that you really don’t care. And a therapist cannot truly help you if you do not care.

So the next time you want to skip that homework assignment your therapist gave you, remember what the true purpose of it is and how much you want that change in your life.

We are here to help

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Whatever the reason, give us a call.  Remember, there are many reasons why people seek therapy. Professional mental health assistance can greatly benefit you in many ways, including making important changes in your life.

We are committed to providing therapy and counseling services in a comfortable, relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment to yield the most realistic and best outcomes.   Give us a call or email us today to schedule an appointment.

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Everyone struggles with homework sometimes, but if getting your homework done has become a chronic issue for you, then you may need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve written this article all about how to do homework. Once you’re finished reading it, you’ll know how to do homework (and have tons of new ways to motivate yourself to do homework)!

We’ve broken this article down into a few major sections. You’ll find:

  • A diagnostic test to help you figure out why you’re struggling with homework
  • A discussion of the four major homework problems students face, along with expert tips for addressing them 
  • A bonus section with tips for how to do homework fast

By the end of this article, you’ll be prepared to tackle whatever homework assignments your teachers throw at you . 

So let’s get started! 

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How to Do Homework: Figure Out Your Struggles 

Sometimes it feels like everything is standing between you and getting your homework done. But the truth is, most people only have one or two major roadblocks that are keeping them from getting their homework done well and on time. 

The best way to figure out how to get motivated to do homework starts with pinpointing the issues that are affecting your ability to get your assignments done. That’s why we’ve developed a short quiz to help you identify the areas where you’re struggling. 

Take the quiz below and record your answers on your phone or on a scrap piece of paper. Keep in mind there are no wrong answers! 

1. You’ve just been assigned an essay in your English class that’s due at the end of the week. What’s the first thing you do?

A. Keep it in mind, even though you won’t start it until the day before it’s due  B. Open up your planner. You’ve got to figure out when you’ll write your paper since you have band practice, a speech tournament, and your little sister’s dance recital this week, too.  C. Groan out loud. Another essay? You could barely get yourself to write the last one!  D. Start thinking about your essay topic, which makes you think about your art project that’s due the same day, which reminds you that your favorite artist might have just posted to Instagram...so you better check your feed right now. 

2. Your mom asked you to pick up your room before she gets home from work. You’ve just gotten home from school. You decide you’ll tackle your chores: 

A. Five minutes before your mom walks through the front door. As long as it gets done, who cares when you start?  B. As soon as you get home from your shift at the local grocery store.  C. After you give yourself a 15-minute pep talk about how you need to get to work.  D. You won’t get it done. Between texts from your friends, trying to watch your favorite Netflix show, and playing with your dog, you just lost track of time! 

3. You’ve signed up to wash dogs at the Humane Society to help earn money for your senior class trip. You: 

A. Show up ten minutes late. You put off leaving your house until the last minute, then got stuck in unexpected traffic on the way to the shelter.  B. Have to call and cancel at the last minute. You forgot you’d already agreed to babysit your cousin and bake cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale.  C. Actually arrive fifteen minutes early with extra brushes and bandanas you picked up at the store. You’re passionate about animals, so you’re excited to help out! D. Show up on time, but only get three dogs washed. You couldn’t help it: you just kept getting distracted by how cute they were!

4. You have an hour of downtime, so you decide you’re going to watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show. You: 

A. Scroll through your social media feeds for twenty minutes before hitting play, which means you’re not able to finish the whole episode. Ugh! You really wanted to see who was sent home!  B. Watch fifteen minutes until you remember you’re supposed to pick up your sister from band practice before heading to your part-time job. No GBBO for you!  C. You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you’ve got SAT studying to do. It’s just more fun to watch people make scones.  D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you’re reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time.

5. Your teacher asks you to stay after class because you’ve missed turning in two homework assignments in a row. When she asks you what’s wrong, you say: 

A. You planned to do your assignments during lunch, but you ran out of time. You decided it would be better to turn in nothing at all than submit unfinished work.  B. You really wanted to get the assignments done, but between your extracurriculars, family commitments, and your part-time job, your homework fell through the cracks.  C. You have a hard time psyching yourself to tackle the assignments. You just can’t seem to find the motivation to work on them once you get home.  D. You tried to do them, but you had a hard time focusing. By the time you realized you hadn’t gotten anything done, it was already time to turn them in. 

Like we said earlier, there are no right or wrong answers to this quiz (though your results will be better if you answered as honestly as possible). Here’s how your answers break down: 

  • If your answers were mostly As, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is procrastination. 
  • If your answers were mostly Bs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is time management. 
  • If your answers were mostly Cs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is motivation. 
  • If your answers were mostly Ds, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is getting distracted. 

Now that you’ve identified why you’re having a hard time getting your homework done, we can help you figure out how to fix it! Scroll down to find your core problem area to learn more about how you can start to address it. 

And one more thing: you’re really struggling with homework, it’s a good idea to read through every section below. You may find some additional tips that will help make homework less intimidating. 

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How to Do Homework When You’re a Procrastinator  

Merriam Webster defines “procrastinate” as “to put off intentionally and habitually.” In other words, procrastination is when you choose to do something at the last minute on a regular basis. If you’ve ever found yourself pulling an all-nighter, trying to finish an assignment between periods, or sprinting to turn in a paper minutes before a deadline, you’ve experienced the effects of procrastination. 

If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you’re in good company. In fact, one study found that 70% to 95% of undergraduate students procrastinate when it comes to doing their homework. Unfortunately, procrastination can negatively impact your grades. Researchers have found that procrastination can lower your grade on an assignment by as much as five points ...which might not sound serious until you realize that can mean the difference between a B- and a C+. 

Procrastination can also negatively affect your health by increasing your stress levels , which can lead to other health conditions like insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even heart conditions. Getting a handle on procrastination can not only improve your grades, it can make you feel better, too! 

The big thing to understand about procrastination is that it’s not the result of laziness. Laziness is defined as being “disinclined to activity or exertion.” In other words, being lazy is all about doing nothing. But a s this Psychology Today article explains , procrastinators don’t put things off because they don’t want to work. Instead, procrastinators tend to postpone tasks they don’t want to do in favor of tasks that they perceive as either more important or more fun. Put another way, procrastinators want to do things...as long as it’s not their homework! 

3 Tips f or Conquering Procrastination 

Because putting off doing homework is a common problem, there are lots of good tactics for addressing procrastination. Keep reading for our three expert tips that will get your homework habits back on track in no time. 

#1: Create a Reward System

Like we mentioned earlier, procrastination happens when you prioritize other activities over getting your homework done. Many times, this happens because homework...well, just isn’t enjoyable. But you can add some fun back into the process by rewarding yourself for getting your work done. 

Here’s what we mean: let’s say you decide that every time you get your homework done before the day it’s due, you’ll give yourself a point. For every five points you earn, you’ll treat yourself to your favorite dessert: a chocolate cupcake! Now you have an extra (delicious!) incentive to motivate you to leave procrastination in the dust. 

If you’re not into cupcakes, don’t worry. Your reward can be anything that motivates you . Maybe it’s hanging out with your best friend or an extra ten minutes of video game time. As long as you’re choosing something that makes homework worth doing, you’ll be successful. 

#2: Have a Homework Accountability Partner 

If you’re having trouble getting yourself to start your homework ahead of time, it may be a good idea to call in reinforcements . Find a friend or classmate you can trust and explain to them that you’re trying to change your homework habits. Ask them if they’d be willing to text you to make sure you’re doing your homework and check in with you once a week to see if you’re meeting your anti-procrastination goals. 

Sharing your goals can make them feel more real, and an accountability partner can help hold you responsible for your decisions. For example, let’s say you’re tempted to put off your science lab write-up until the morning before it’s due. But you know that your accountability partner is going to text you about it tomorrow...and you don’t want to fess up that you haven’t started your assignment. A homework accountability partner can give you the extra support and incentive you need to keep your homework habits on track. 

#3: Create Your Own Due Dates 

If you’re a life-long procrastinator, you might find that changing the habit is harder than you expected. In that case, you might try using procrastination to your advantage! If you just can’t seem to stop doing your work at the last minute, try setting your own due dates for assignments that range from a day to a week before the assignment is actually due. 

Here’s what we mean. Let’s say you have a math worksheet that’s been assigned on Tuesday and is due on Friday. In your planner, you can write down the due date as Thursday instead. You may still put off your homework assignment until the last minute...but in this case, the “last minute” is a day before the assignment’s real due date . This little hack can trick your procrastination-addicted brain into planning ahead! 

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If you feel like Kevin Hart in this meme, then our tips for doing homework when you're busy are for you. 

How to Do Homework When You’re too Busy

If you’re aiming to go to a top-tier college , you’re going to have a full plate. Because college admissions is getting more competitive, it’s important that you’re maintaining your grades , studying hard for your standardized tests , and participating in extracurriculars so your application stands out. A packed schedule can get even more hectic once you add family obligations or a part-time job to the mix. 

If you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions at once, you’re not alone. Recent research has found that stress—and more severe stress-related conditions like anxiety and depression— are a major problem for high school students . In fact, one study from the American Psychological Association found that during the school year, students’ stress levels are higher than those of the adults around them. 

For students, homework is a major contributor to their overall stress levels . Many high schoolers have multiple hours of homework every night , and figuring out how to fit it into an already-packed schedule can seem impossible. 

3 Tips for Fitting Homework Into Your Busy Schedule

While it might feel like you have literally no time left in your schedule, there are still ways to make sure you’re able to get your homework done and meet your other commitments. Here are our expert homework tips for even the busiest of students. 

#1: Make a Prioritized To-Do List 

You probably already have a to-do list to keep yourself on track. The next step is to prioritize the items on your to-do list so you can see what items need your attention right away. 

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of each day, sit down and make a list of all the items you need to get done before you go to bed. This includes your homework, but it should also take into account any practices, chores, events, or job shifts you may have. Once you get everything listed out, it’s time to prioritize them using the labels A, B, and C. Here’s what those labels mean:

  • A Tasks : tasks that have to get done—like showing up at work or turning in an assignment—get an A. 
  • B Tasks : these are tasks that you would like to get done by the end of the day but aren’t as time sensitive. For example, studying for a test you have next week could be a B-level task. It’s still important, but it doesn’t have to be done right away. 
  • C Tasks: these are tasks that aren’t very important and/or have no real consequences if you don’t get them done immediately. For instance, if you’re hoping to clean out your closet but it’s not an assigned chore from your parents, you could label that to-do item with a C. 

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you visualize which items need your immediate attention, and which items you can leave for later. A prioritized to-do list ensures that you’re spending your time efficiently and effectively, which helps you make room in your schedule for homework. So even though you might really want to start making decorations for Homecoming (a B task), you’ll know that finishing your reading log (an A task) is more important. 

#2: Use a Planner With Time Labels 

Your planner is probably packed with notes, events, and assignments already. (And if you’re not using a planner, it’s time to start!) But planners can do more for you than just remind you when an assignment is due. If you’re using a planner with time labels, it can help you visualize how you need to spend your day.

A planner with time labels breaks your day down into chunks, and you assign tasks to each chunk of time. For example, you can make a note of your class schedule with assignments, block out time to study, and make sure you know when you need to be at practice. Once you know which tasks take priority, you can add them to any empty spaces in your day. 

Planning out how you spend your time not only helps you use it wisely, it can help you feel less overwhelmed, too . We’re big fans of planners that include a task list ( like this one ) or have room for notes ( like this one ). 

#3: Set Reminders on Your Phone 

If you need a little extra nudge to make sure you’re getting your homework done on time, it’s a good idea to set some reminders on your phone. You don’t need a fancy app, either. You can use your alarm app to have it go off at specific times throughout the day to remind you to do your homework. This works especially well if you have a set homework time scheduled. So if you’ve decided you’re doing homework at 6:00 pm, you can set an alarm to remind you to bust out your books and get to work. 

If you use your phone as your planner, you may have the option to add alerts, emails, or notifications to scheduled events . Many calendar apps, including the one that comes with your phone, have built-in reminders that you can customize to meet your needs. So if you block off time to do your homework from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, you can set a reminder that will pop up on your phone when it’s time to get started. 

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This dog isn't judging your lack of motivation...but your teacher might. Keep reading for tips to help you motivate yourself to do your homework.

How to Do Homework When You’re Unmotivated 

At first glance, it may seem like procrastination and being unmotivated are the same thing. After all, both of these issues usually result in you putting off your homework until the very last minute. 

But there’s one key difference: many procrastinators are working, they’re just prioritizing work differently. They know they’re going to start their homework...they’re just going to do it later. 

Conversely, people who are unmotivated to do homework just can’t find the willpower to tackle their assignments. Procrastinators know they’ll at least attempt the homework at the last minute, whereas people who are unmotivated struggle with convincing themselves to do it at a ll. For procrastinators, the stress comes from the inevitable time crunch. For unmotivated people, the stress comes from trying to convince themselves to do something they don’t want to do in the first place. 

Here are some common reasons students are unmotivated in doing homework : 

  • Assignments are too easy, too hard, or seemingly pointless 
  • Students aren’t interested in (or passionate about) the subject matter
  • Students are intimidated by the work and/or feels like they don’t understand the assignment 
  • Homework isn’t fun, and students would rather spend their time on things that they enjoy 

To sum it up: people who lack motivation to do their homework are more likely to not do it at all, or to spend more time worrying about doing their homework than...well, actually doing it.

3 Tips for How to Get Motivated to Do Homework

The key to getting homework done when you’re unmotivated is to figure out what does motivate you, then apply those things to homework. It sounds tricky...but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it! Here are our three expert tips for motivating yourself to do your homework. 

#1: Use Incremental Incentives

When you’re not motivated, it’s important to give yourself small rewards to stay focused on finishing the task at hand. The trick is to keep the incentives small and to reward yourself often. For example, maybe you’re reading a good book in your free time. For every ten minutes you spend on your homework, you get to read five pages of your book. Like we mentioned earlier, make sure you’re choosing a reward that works for you! 

So why does this technique work? Using small rewards more often allows you to experience small wins for getting your work done. Every time you make it to one of your tiny reward points, you get to celebrate your success, which gives your brain a boost of dopamine . Dopamine helps you stay motivated and also creates a feeling of satisfaction when you complete your homework !  

#2: Form a Homework Group 

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, it’s okay to turn to others for support. Creating a homework group can help with this. Bring together a group of your friends or classmates, and pick one time a week where you meet and work on homework together. You don’t have to be in the same class, or even taking the same subjects— the goal is to encourage one another to start (and finish!) your assignments. 

Another added benefit of a homework group is that you can help one another if you’re struggling to understand the material covered in your classes. This is especially helpful if your lack of motivation comes from being intimidated by your assignments. Asking your friends for help may feel less scary than talking to your teacher...and once you get a handle on the material, your homework may become less frightening, too. 

#3: Change Up Your Environment 

If you find that you’re totally unmotivated, it may help if you find a new place to do your homework. For example, if you’ve been struggling to get your homework done at home, try spending an extra hour in the library after school instead. The change of scenery can limit your distractions and give you the energy you need to get your work done. 

If you’re stuck doing homework at home, you can still use this tip. For instance, maybe you’ve always done your homework sitting on your bed. Try relocating somewhere else, like your kitchen table, for a few weeks. You may find that setting up a new “homework spot” in your house gives you a motivational lift and helps you get your work done. 

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Social media can be a huge problem when it comes to doing homework. We have advice for helping you unplug and regain focus.

How to Do Homework When You’re Easily Distracted

We live in an always-on world, and there are tons of things clamoring for our attention. From friends and family to pop culture and social media, it seems like there’s always something (or someone!) distracting us from the things we need to do.

The 24/7 world we live in has affected our ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time. Research has shown that over the past decade, an average person’s attention span has gone from 12 seconds to eight seconds . And when we do lose focus, i t takes people a long time to get back on task . One study found that it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back to work once we’ve been distracte d. No wonder it can take hours to get your homework done! 

3 Tips to Improve Your Focus

If you have a hard time focusing when you’re doing your homework, it’s a good idea to try and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Here are three expert tips for blocking out the noise so you can focus on getting your homework done. 

#1: Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Pick a place where you’ll do your homework every day, and make it as distraction-free as possible. Try to find a location where there won’t be tons of noise, and limit your access to screens while you’re doing your homework. Put together a focus-oriented playlist (or choose one on your favorite streaming service), and put your headphones on while you work. 

You may find that other people, like your friends and family, are your biggest distraction. If that’s the case, try setting up some homework boundaries. Let them know when you’ll be working on homework every day, and ask them if they’ll help you keep a quiet environment. They’ll be happy to lend a hand! 

#2: Limit Your Access to Technology 

We know, we know...this tip isn’t fun, but it does work. For homework that doesn’t require a computer, like handouts or worksheets, it’s best to put all your technology away . Turn off your television, put your phone and laptop in your backpack, and silence notifications on any wearable tech you may be sporting. If you listen to music while you work, that’s fine...but make sure you have a playlist set up so you’re not shuffling through songs once you get started on your homework. 

If your homework requires your laptop or tablet, it can be harder to limit your access to distractions. But it’s not impossible! T here are apps you can download that will block certain websites while you’re working so that you’re not tempted to scroll through Twitter or check your Facebook feed. Silence notifications and text messages on your computer, and don’t open your email account unless you absolutely have to. And if you don’t need access to the internet to complete your assignments, turn off your WiFi. Cutting out the online chatter is a great way to make sure you’re getting your homework done. 

#3: Set a Timer (the Pomodoro Technique)

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique ? It’s a productivity hack that uses a timer to help you focus!

Here’s how it works: first, set a timer for 25 minutes. This is going to be your work time. During this 25 minutes, all you can do is work on whatever homework assignment you have in front of you. No email, no text messaging, no phone calls—just homework. When that timer goes off, you get to take a 5 minute break. Every time you go through one of these cycles, it’s called a “pomodoro.” For every four pomodoros you complete, you can take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.

The pomodoro technique works through a combination of boundary setting and rewards. First, it gives you a finite amount of time to focus, so you know that you only have to work really hard for 25 minutes. Once you’ve done that, you’re rewarded with a short break where you can do whatever you want. Additionally, tracking how many pomodoros you complete can help you see how long you’re really working on your homework. (Once you start using our focus tips, you may find it doesn’t take as long as you thought!)

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Two Bonus Tips for How to Do Homework Fast

Even if you’re doing everything right, there will be times when you just need to get your homework done as fast as possible. (Why do teachers always have projects due in the same week? The world may never know.)

The problem with speeding through homework is that it’s easy to make mistakes. While turning in an assignment is always better than not submitting anything at all, you want to make sure that you’re not compromising quality for speed. Simply put, the goal is to get your homework done quickly and still make a good grade on the assignment! 

Here are our two bonus tips for getting a decent grade on your homework assignments , even when you’re in a time crunch. 

#1: Do the Easy Parts First 

This is especially true if you’re working on a handout with multiple questions. Before you start working on the assignment, read through all the questions and problems. As you do, make a mark beside the questions you think are “easy” to answer . 

Once you’ve finished going through the whole assignment, you can answer these questions first. Getting the easy questions out of the way as quickly as possible lets you spend more time on the trickier portions of your homework, which will maximize your assignment grade. 

(Quick note: this is also a good strategy to use on timed assignments and tests, like the SAT and the ACT !) 

#2: Pay Attention in Class 

Homework gets a lot easier when you’re actively learning the material. Teachers aren’t giving you homework because they’re mean or trying to ruin your weekend... it’s because they want you to really understand the course material. Homework is designed to reinforce what you’re already learning in class so you’ll be ready to tackle harder concepts later. 

When you pay attention in class, ask questions, and take good notes, you’re absorbing the information you’ll need to succeed on your homework assignments. (You’re stuck in class anyway, so you might as well make the most of it!) Not only will paying attention in class make your homework less confusing, it will also help it go much faster, too. 

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What’s Next?

If you’re looking to improve your productivity beyond homework, a good place to begin is with time management. After all, we only have so much time in a day...so it’s important to get the most out of it! To get you started, check out this list of the 12 best time management techniques that you can start using today.

You may have read this article because homework struggles have been affecting your GPA. Now that you’re on the path to homework success, it’s time to start being proactive about raising your grades. This article teaches you everything you need to know about raising your GPA so you can

Now you know how to get motivated to do homework...but what about your study habits? Studying is just as critical to getting good grades, and ultimately getting into a good college . We can teach you how to study bette r in high school. (We’ve also got tons of resources to help you study for your ACT and SAT exams , too!) 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

How Do I Facilitate Effective Group Work?

Two male students of color working together on homework at a table.

Successful group work is characterized by trust, psychological safety, clarity of expectations, and good communication; being in the same location while working is not essential to group effectiveness (Duhigg, 2016; Kelly, 2008; Salmons, 2019). Below we offer strategies and examples that work for short-term collaborative group work (e.g., discussions in an online, hybrid/flexible, or in-person class) and long-term collaborative assignments (e.g., group projects), ending with additional considerations for long-term collaborative work.

STRATEGIES & EXAMPLES

Provide opportunities to develop connection and trust.

Engage students with community building activities.  Groups work best when students feel connected and trust each other. Brief  icebreaker activities  are fun and allow students to get to know each other before delving into group work. If using a video conferencing platform such as Zoom or Echo360, ask students to type a word or emoji about how they are doing into the chat, or during in-person classes students can share this orally or via an audience response system. Let students practice group work in  Moodle  or  Blackboard  with some low-stakes group assignments.

Create group norms.  In the first few weeks of class, create participation norms that all students agree upon as a class or within their small groups. Discuss with students how certain social identities (e.g., women in STEM, transgender students) can be unintentionally marginalized during group work as a justification for creating norms around respectful and inclusive communication (Oakley, Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004). Vary the groupings of students so that students can meet other students and hear different perspectives, particularly in the first weeks of class. Refer back to the agreed-upon norms when conflict arises.

Proactively check in with groups.  It’s important to pay attention to both process and the accomplished task. As you drop into groups during class time or consult with groups in office hours, note who does and does not speak; consider asking questions about process such as who is generating ideas and how they know everyone is on board with these ideas. Check in individually with quieter students. Remember, how you address group functioning models how they should interact with each other (Kelly, 2008).

(Over)communicate and Reinforce Expectations

Communicate the purpose.  Communicate in writing and orally the skills students will develop by the end of their group work experience and why this is a valuable task or project to do in groups (as opposed to individually). You might ask students to connect skills they will learn to their personal goals and describe how they will know if they’ve developed these skills apart from your feedback.

Describe the tasks.  In writing, describe the tasks in detail, including steps in the process with due dates/deadlines, resources needed, technology for communication, and expectations for group work. This means giving students clear topics, questions, deliverables, or goals for group work. Consider assigning rotating task roles such as discussion director, connector, summarizer, recorder, and reporter (Kennedy & Nilson, 2008). Create a space online for students to submit questions which are publicly answered for all to see; this can become an  FAQ forum . At the end of group work, have groups submit something that demonstrates their engagement with the task for a small amount of points, such as group decisions, remaining questions, or discussion notes.

Clarify the criteria.  Communicate specific details about how student work generated in groups will be assessed (i.e., rubrics, exemplars, grading scheme). Use positive, “do this” language rather than negative, “don’t do this” language when possible. Show examples that typify important or challenging aspects of the work with narrations (i.e., on video or in a commented document) of what makes the work exemplar.

Additional Tips for Long-term Collaborative Projects

Be sure students have a communication plan.  This can be specified as part of their group norms and processes at the beginning of the project. In addition, be clear how and when groups should communicate with you, where and in what format they should submit materials, and what to do if they encounter a problem.

Break apart the project into phases or milestones with clear deliverables at each stage.  Clearly specify how and where students should turn in work (i.e., online or in person), and use this format consistently for all deliverables.

Have students periodically check in about their group process and report back on their process.  At the beginning of the project, ask students to identify how they want to work together, what their expectations are for each other, and what collaborative tools the group wants to use. Have them post their group norms in an online forum. Include a requirement for a  "team effectiveness discussion"  or evaluation (self or peer) after students have some time to work together (e.g., 2nd milestone; See  Oakley et al. 2004  for a “Crisis Clinic” guide). Allow them to adjust norms and set goals for the next phase of group work.

Clearly connect homework, lectures, or other learning activities to the group project.  For example, after learning new concepts, students might be asked to turn in a brief “Application memo” which connects course content to their group project. An online session might end with an “Integrate it” discussion among group members to integrate new learning into their project. Homework might be called “Project Prep.” Name activities by their purpose so that students see the relevance and utility of each activity more easily.

Foster cross-group peer review.  Students will appreciate hearing what other groups are doing and can get ideas for their own projects. For example, have students share their milestones or group work with another group and have them record questions and feedback in a collaborative document. Review that document to provide feedback to the entire class, saving you from giving feedback to each group. Peer review can also be done as a workshop or group assignment activity in the LMS. 

Please contact the CTL with any questions or for more details about the examples shared at  [email protected] . For support with collaborative technology, email  [email protected] .

For questions on your LMS, Google, and other educational technology contact IDEAS at [email protected]

Duhigg, C. (2016, February 25).  What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team . The New York Times.

Kelly, R. (2008, August 11).  Creating trust in online education ,  Faculty Focus.

Kennedy, F. A., and Nilson, L. B. (2008).  Successful strategies for teams. Team Member Handbook .  Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, Clemson University.

Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004).  Turning student groups into effective teams .  Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2 (1), pp. 9-34.

Salmons, J. (2019).  Learning to collaborate, collaborating to learn: Engaging students in the classroom and online . Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Image by Armin Rimoldi for Pexels.

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45+ Powerful Therapy Exercises For Clients, Couples & Groups

Therapy Exercises

By identifying and sharing appropriate therapy exercises with clients, therapists help clients learn to manage existing problems and gain self-help skills for use going forward (Nelson-Jones, 2014).

In this article, we share many of our favorite free therapy exercises and suggest situations and groups where they may be best placed. Why not review them and reflect on their potential to boost engagement while supporting growth and development in individual, couple, and group settings?

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into positive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.

This Article Contains

How to use exercises in therapy, 19 popular therapy exercises to try, 14 exercises and activities for couples, 7 group therapy exercises for your sessions, 5 simple therapeutic writing exercises, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message, frequently asked questions.

A vital aspect of therapy is for the counselor or therapist to “collaborate with clients to achieve change and then for clients to maintain that change” long after treatment ends (Nelson-Jones, 2014, p. 52).

Mental health practitioners must understand the skills their clients need to develop, demonstrate how they can be implemented, and engage them in performing structured activities and homework tasks.

While it is essential that the counselor form a solid therapeutic bond with their client, it is similarly crucial that they identify and share powerful therapy exercises that support them in replacing their old self-defeating ways with more helpful, better skills (Nelson-Jones, 2014).

Unsurprisingly, research recognizes a significant connection between completing therapeutic homework and treatment outcomes (Mausbach et al., 2010).

Growth mindset interventions

The following exercises can be empowering when working with clients experiencing anxiety.

6 Exercises for managing anxiety

While the effects of anxiety can be catastrophic and far reaching, therapeutic interventions can be highly successful in helping clients redirect their minds away from “worry and negative self-appraisals and toward greater acceptance of internal states” (Crowley et al., 2017, p. 130).

The following therapy exercises will help:

  • Event Visualization Worksheet Detailed imagination of a future event or challenge offers a safe and controlled environment for reducing concern and anxiety and gaining confidence without risk of failure.
  • Tackling Anxious Thoughts Clients can learn how to notice anxious and irrational thoughts and find more helpful and rational alternatives.
  • Managing Panic This is a valuable worksheet for identifying triggers and sources of panic and anxiety and recognizing associated feelings and behavior.
  • Anxiety Record Maintaining a record of the causes of anxiety can be enlightening and empowering.
  • Best and Worst When working with children, creating a Venn diagram can be a helpful visual representation of their anxieties versus potentially positive outcomes.
  • Labeling Your Emotions Giving names to feelings can help children identify and understand their anxiety without forming guilt or engaging in judgment.

6 Best exercises for depression

Depression can be helped by understanding its causes and triggers while building a resilient mindset that increases positivity, improves stress recovery, and maintains flexibility in challenging environments (Waugh & Koster, 2015).

The following worksheets are valuable tools for use when working with clients experiencing depression or at risk of future episodes:

  • Recognizing Rumination Persistent negative thinking is a key risk factor for depression. This template helps identify unhelpful thoughts and how they interfere with daily living.
  • Guilt and Shame Emotions That Drive Depression Feeling guilt and shame can push an individual deeper into their depression. The clients answer questions in this exercise to help identify and better understand such emotions.
  • Depressive Thought Worksheet for Teens Young people can benefit from reflecting on situations causing negative thinking and changing them into more realistic thoughts.
  • What Is Depression? A Fact Sheet for Teenagers This valuable and insightful fact sheet explains what depression is, its signs and symptoms, potential behavioral changes, and how to seek help.
  • My Depression Story Use this worksheet with clients to create a timeline of their lives to understand the key moments that shaped their perspective.
  • Unhelpful Thinking Styles Our underlying thought patterns can worsen our depression. Share this worksheet with clients to identify unhelpful thinking styles and how to reconstruct them more positively.

7 Helpful exercises for building self-esteem

While poor self-esteem may emerge early in life, it can also develop in adulthood, caused by a combination of negative self-beliefs, harsh feedback, and challenging environments (Orth & Robins, 2019).

The following helpful exercises can boost clients’ self-esteem and challenge harsh self-evaluations:

  • Designing Affirmations Positively focused self-affirmations can reinforce our self-identity and outcomes related to meaningful personal values.
  • The Self-Esteem Checkup This valuable tool offers clients insight into their degree of self-love, self-respect, and confidence in their capabilities.
  • Understanding Self-Confidence This worksheet helps teens, adolescents, and adults familiarize themselves with the mental and bodily experiences associated with self-confidence.
  • My “Love Letter” to Myself Use this worksheet with clients to help them identify their best traits, abilities, and talents and consider how they have benefited them and others in their lives.
  • Things I Like About Me This worksheet helps children and teenagers see the beauty resulting from their uniqueness. Use this worksheet to encourage them to understand all they can do, how they treat others, and what they like about themselves.
  • Self-Esteem Journal for Adults Journaling can promote positive self-reflection and enhance self-esteem. Ask the client to complete the questions and then reflect on their thinking patterns, feelings, and emotions.
  • Track and Measure Success We are all much better at remembering what we did wrong rather than our successes. Ask clients to keep a copy of what went well and review it before future challenges.

homework in group

Download 3 Free Positive CBT Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to find new pathways to reduce suffering and more effectively cope with life stressors.

Download 3 Free Positive CBT Tools Pack (PDF)

By filling out your name and email address below.

Inevitably, couples disagree. However, when differences become irreconcilable, couples therapy can help regain trust, rebuild communication, and strengthen relationship bonds (Greiger, 2015).

The following exercises and activities are powerful tools for use with clients to support them on their journey.

30 Questions to ask couples

  • Conflict Resolutions Checklist This valuable set of 10 questions ensures both partners have taken the steps to reduce or remove conflict.
  • Valuing My Partner These five questions support clients in seeing their partners in a more positive (and realistic) light.
  • Relationship History and Philosophy Questionnaire These 11 questions encourage couples to rediscover their admiration and love for one another through revisiting their shared history.
  • Marital Conflict Questionnaire Use this four-question sheet to recognize and understand multiple conflicts the couple is experiencing.

4 Couples exercises to build trust

  • Anger Exit and Re-Entry Routines This exercise builds relationship trust by identifying when conversations become heated and when it is time to exit, cool down, or re-enter.
  • Imago Workup Identifying each other’s needs, desires, and past experiences can enhance understanding, encourage vulnerability, and boost trust in any relationship.
  • Things I Love These are 10 prompts to be answered by each partner to encourage more robust, fruitful connections and strengthen the couple’s bond.
  • Good Qualities Ask couples to work through the four prompts and capture and share good qualities, cherished memories, what they appreciate, and how the other person shows they care.

3 Exercises couples can perform at home

  • From My Way to Our Way Couples may find living together challenging. This helpful exercise encourages partners to find a middle ground between two possibly very different views of everyday activities.
  • Turning You Into I Worksheet “You” statements can sound critical and judgmental. In this exercise, each partner focuses on using the “I” pronoun to express how they feel and thereby support empathy.
  • 10 Tips for Coping With Your Partner’s Upset While listening to a partner’s pain is sometimes difficult, this exercise can help avoid becoming overwhelmed.

3 Exercises for long-distance relationships

  • Active Listening Reflection Worksheet Being apart can significantly strain a relationship. Each partner will benefit from improving their active listening skills to boost understanding and reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation of what is being communicated on a call, video chat, or in person.
  • Traps to Avoid and Tips for Success Conflicts can often be avoided — or at least managed better — by learning the mistakes we make in our communication and following these six tips for conflict resolution.
  • Effective Communication Reflection Worksheet Provide clients with this helpful worksheet to encourage them to reflect on their communication and how it might be improved.

Empathic listening

The following exercises support group-based therapy in children and adults:

  • Telling an Empathy Story Telling someone else’s story can be a powerful way to understand their perspective while developing empathy. This five-step worksheet helps group members focus on feelings and what it’s like to be in someone else’s situation.
  • What I See in You We rarely see ourselves as others do. In this exercise, the group takes turns offering compliments to an individual member, which they then repeat back using the pronoun “I.”
  • Nudge Interventions in Groups A group environment creates a powerful opportunity to identify, explore, and discuss small changes that can have significant behavioral outcomes.
  • Group Boundary-Setting Exercise This exercise provides an opportunity to practice using body language and speech to set boundaries with others in a group setting.
  • Creating an Empathy Picture Helpful for multiple age groups, this exercise encourages members to reflect on and understand another person’s feelings.
  • Support Group Evaluation Form It is vital to assess the appropriateness of interventions performed continuously within a group setting to ensure their suitability.
  • Group Counseling Permission Form This is a helpful form for parents to give their consent for their children to attend group counseling.
“Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health.”

Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005, p. 338

Simply capturing our thoughts, emotions, and concerns regularly — perhaps daily in a journal — has been shown to boost our moods and improve our overall sense of psychological wellbeing (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).

The following five exercises encourage clients to self-reflect and then capture how they feel and think digitally or on paper:

  • Gratitude Journal Writing down daily everything that we are grateful for and learning from the challenges we face provides a powerful exercise for boosting our focus on the good things in life.
  • Who Am I? Stopping to reflect and answer questions about ourselves increases self-awareness and self-knowledge. This two-part writing activity can be used in individual and group settings.
  • Self-Love Journal These 10 self-love writing prompts encourage self-inquiry while identifying ways to introduce more self-directed compassion and kindness.
  • Self-Love Sentence Stems Completing these 20 self-love partial sentences can boost self-awareness and self-kindness in clients who tend toward self-criticism.
  • Reverse the Rabbit Hole Capturing worries and potentially positive and negative outcomes on paper can make clients’ concerns more manageable.

homework in group

17 Science-Based Ways To Apply Positive CBT

These 17 Positive CBT & Cognitive Therapy Exercises [PDF] include our top-rated, ready-made templates for helping others develop more helpful thoughts and behaviors in response to challenges, while broadening the scope of traditional CBT.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

As we have already seen, we have many resources for therapists working with individuals, couples, and groups to support multiple issues and concerns while promoting overall wellbeing.

More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , but they are described briefly below.

Building the rituals of connection

Regular, relationship-focused habits can help foster more productive communicative behavior in a relationship and can offer emotional significance.

The four steps include:

  • Step one – understanding various ritual types and timings, such as when parting, showing affection, and arranging date nights
  • Step two – identifying specific actions for inclusion in each ritual
  • Step three – planning how and when they should take place
  • Step four – reflecting on the positive emotions that arose from each ritual and recognizing their importance

A strengths versus weakness focus

We often devote more time to our weaknesses than our strengths. The following two steps can be performed in a group setting to improve awareness regarding the importance of strength awareness and focus.

  • Step one – Divide the group into three subgroups, as follows.

– Group 1 (weakness focus) spends time reflecting on challenging aspects of their jobs that drain their energy. – Group 2 (strength focus) discusses the highlights of their job. – Group 3 (observers) keeps an eye on the other two groups, noting their distinctions and dynamics.

  • Step two – After 15 minutes, regroup. The “weakness” and “strength” groups share what they discussed first. Then, the observers point out the contrasts in energy, mood, and behavior between the two.

This exercise supports participants as they introspectively analyze their strengths and weaknesses, all while fostering group communication and collaboration.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others through CBT, check out this collection of 17 validated positive CBT tools for practitioners. Use them to help others overcome unhelpful thoughts and feelings and develop more positive behaviors.

Therapy exercises are powerful tools for therapists and counselors working with individuals, couples, and groups. Such interventions, performed as homework between sessions, are linked to successful treatment outcomes (Mausbach et al., 2010).

The article shares many free therapy exercises and interventions grounded in research that support working with various psychological challenges, including complicated relationships, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues.

Such therapeutic exercises have the potential to foster meaningful change in your clients, equipping them with the tools to manage immediate challenges and the skills to solve issues in the future and after therapy. In doing so, they support and encourage individuals to participate actively in their healing and growth.

Besides the free therapy exercises highlighted, we offer various resource packs available on our website that underpin successful client outcomes. As therapists and counselors, you can use these activities and exercises as they are or tailor them to your clients’ specific needs and situations, ensuring you provide the best support for a positive therapeutic outcome.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. For more information, don’t forget to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free .

Ed: Updated November 2023

When talk therapy doesn’t meet a client’s needs, a more active approach, such as drama therapy , can be helpful. Role-play and storytelling can be powerful tools for treating young people experiencing behavioral challenges, older clients facing age-related issues, and anyone with social and emotional difficulties (Boila et al., 2020).

Typically, stabilizing mental health involves a multifaceted approach. Individuals seeking help benefit from actively engaging in therapy and creating personal treatment plans, including recognizing strengths and setting personal goals.

Counseling offers therapeutic support and learning skills to help clients form solid connections with others and adopt a positive mindset by reframing negative thoughts, practicing gratitude, and focusing on successful outcomes (Dixon et al., 2016; Jacob, 2015).

  • Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment , 11 (5), 338–346.
  • Bandelow, B., & Wedekind, D. (2022). Internet psychotherapeutic interventions for anxiety disorders: A critical evaluation. BMC Psychiatry , 22 (1).
  • Boila, V., Klettke, L., Quong, S., & Gerlitz, C. (2020). Raising the curtain on drama therapy: Healing benefits for youth and older adults. Behavioural Sciences Undergraduate Journal , 3 (1), 45–50.
  • Crowley, M. J., Nicholls, S. S., McCarthy, D., Greatorex, K., Wu, J., & Mayes, L. C. (2017). Innovations in practice: group mindfulness for adolescent anxiety: Results of an open trial. Child and Adolescent Mental Health , 23 (2), 130–133.
  • Dixon, L. B., Holoshitz, Y., & Nossel, I. (2016). Treatment engagement of individuals experiencing mental illness: review and update. World Psychiatry , 15 (1), 13–20.
  • Dwyer, L. A., Hornsey, M. J., Smith, L. G. E., Oei, T. P. S., & Dingle, G. A. (2011). Participant autonomy in cognitive behavioral group therapy: An integration of self-determination and cognitive behavioral theories. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 30 (1), 24–46.
  • Greiger, R. (2015). The couples therapy companion: A cognitive behavior workbook . Routledge.
  • Jacob, K. S. (2015). Recovery model of mental illness: A complementary approach to psychiatric care. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine , 37 (2), 117–119.
  • Lenz, A. S., Hall, J., & Bailey Smith, L. (2015). Meta-analysis of group mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for decreasing symptoms of acute depression. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work , 41 (1), 44–70.
  • Mausbach, B. T., Moore, R., Roesch, S., Cardenas, V., & Patterson, T. L. (2010). The relationship between homework compliance and therapy outcomes: An updated meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research , 34 (5), 429–438.
  • Nelson-Jones, R. (2014). Practical counselling and helping skills . Sage.
  • Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2019). Development of self-esteem across the lifespan. In D. P. McAdams, R. L. Shiner, & J. L. Tackett (Eds.), Handbook of personality development (pp. 328–344). Guilford Press.
  • Waugh, C. E., & Koster, E. H. (2015). A resilience framework for promoting stable remission from depression. Clinical Psychology Review , 41 , 49–60.

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  • Improve teamwork with group development
  • Community news and insights

Team members fist bump to show agreement.

We’ve all been part of a group project before, whether for school or work (or likely both). As a result, we’re all aware of the challenges one can present. We tend to have strong feelings about who we want to work with and what we want the process to look like.

To make group work a better experience for all participants, it’s helpful to understand group dynamics.

Group dynamics is the process by which people work together toward a common goal. Working in groups has many benefits , including building a sense of belonging, having diverse perspectives and skills, sharing burdens, and creating support networks. Understanding how groups work, however, is key. Bruce Tuckman developed a model that considers the different stages of group development . Though not perfect or all-inclusive , his particular model is well-known and commonly used.

According to Tuckman, the five stages of group development include:

The first thing groups do is form. During this stage, group members may feel excited or uncertain, and they may concede their opinions to avoid conflict (especially if they hold marginalized identities). While the group forms, make sure you outline roles and expectations for the group and its goals.

After groups form and people become comfortable, they begin to storm. This stage may include conflict as people start to share their personal goals, their different ways of understanding the group’s goals, and their preferred working and communication styles.

This stage can also highlight cultural differences and power dynamics related to social identities. It is important to remind group members that conflict is a normal part of group development and to try not to take things personally. Groups change frequently; if a group advances from this stage, but then a new member joins, the group may need to storm again.

Once people’s true feelings emerge and conflict arises, compromise is eventually reached during the norming stage. During this stage, groups solidify their expectations, roles, strengths, and weaknesses.

The group also realizes its diversity as a strength and members understand one another more deeply, allowing them to effectively communicate and work together as a unit.

This is usually the stage groups want to be in. When groups start to work on and accomplish the goal they set during forming, they are performing. Many groups never reach this stage because they try to skip the earlier stages; however, when they do, “ their capacity, range, and depth of personal relations expand to true interdependence .” In this stage, groups find their flow and move into action.

Even ongoing teams have projects that eventually end. A group dissolving is part of the adjournment stage. One way to promote positive closure is by highlighting successes and framing areas for improvement as learning opportunities. Groups can also adjourn positively through a reflection session, a communal meal, or a graduation ceremony.

A diagram illustration of the five stages of group and team development that include forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Arrows to the stages appear in a non-circular manner.

Understanding the five stages of group development can help you better understand group dynamics and how to solve group issues. Groups are unique and ever-changing; McRae and Dias emphasize that “Racial, cultural, and gender dynamics when not recognized and worked with can create havoc in an organization.”

What stage is your group in? What can you do to help move your group to the next stage?

  • McRae, M. B., & Short, E. L. (2010). Racial and cultural dynamics in group and organizational life: crossing boundaries. Sage.
  • Miville, M. L., & Ferguson, A. D. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of race-ethnicity and gender in psychology . Springer.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups . Psychological Bulletin, 63 (6), 384–399.
  • Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of small-group development revisited . Group & Organization Studies, 2 (4), 419–427.
  • West Chester University. (2022, September 28). Tuckman’s stages of group development. Collaborative Online Research and Learning .

Author: Isabel Huot-Link, Extension educator, leadership and civic engagement

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Father arrested after continuously calling school about child’s homework, police say

OXFORD, Ohio ( WXIX /Gray News) - A father’s growing frustrations about the amount of homework his child’s school was assigning led to him being arrested.

Adam Sizemore is accused of repeatedly calling his child’s school to complain about the amount of homework, according to police in Oxford, Ohio.

Criminal complaints filed against Sizemore claim he threatened the school principal, saying he “better put his big boy pants on.”

When the school stopped answering Sizemore’s call, detectives say he started calling their police department.

“He calls dispatch, I think it was 18 times, roughly,” said Oxford Police Detective Sgt. Adam Price.

In the audio records from the police department, Sizemore can be heard becoming frustrated that dispatchers are not telling him their names.

He was audibly frustrated that he kept getting the chief of police’s voicemail and that he can’t speak with him directly.

“He can come to my f****** house. I pay for him. He can come to my house,” Sizemore was heard saying in a transcript of one of the calls.

After repeated calls, Sizemore did not get the chance to speak with the chief, but he did get to speak with officers.

In other audio recordings, a dispatcher told Sizemore that they would send out officers after his repeated calls to the department.

“That ultimately ended when we took him into custody for telecommunications harassment as well as a menacing charge,” Price explained.

Sizemore was charged with two first-degree misdemeanors for telecommunications harassment, according to the criminal complaint. The menacing charge he faces is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, the complaint also shows.

Copyright 2024 WXIX via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Alexander Yu. Olshanskii

A.Yu. Olshanskii is a Centennial Professor at the Department of Mathematics of Vanderbilt University. Before joining Vanderbilt University, he was a Professor of Mathematics in Moscow State University. His research expertise is mostly in combinatorial and geometric group theory although he has made significant contributions to other areas (finite groups and Lie algebras, in particular). There are very few specialists in group theory whose contributions to the modern understanding of group theory is comparable to Olshanskii's. He solved several key problems in group theory including

  • B.H. Neumann's problem about existence of non-finitely based varieties of groups,
  • Shmidt-Tarski's problem about existence of infinite non-cyclic groups with all proper subgroups cyclic of prime order,
  • von Neumann's problem about existence of non-amenable groups without free non-cyclic subgroups,
  • Gromov's problem about existence of infinite quotients of finite exponent for non-elementary hyperbolic groups,
  • Gromov's problem about possible distortions of subgroups of finitely presented groups.

Olshanskii's geometric method of graded van Kampen diagrams allowed him and his students to solve many other old and well-known problems in group theory. This includes the solution of Burnside problem for even exponents by S. Ivanov, a former student of Olshanskii, and a construction of a finitely generated non-trivial divisible group by V. Guba, another former student of Olshanskii. The latest applications of his method were a construction of a finitely presented non-amenable group without free non-abelian subgroups (by A.Yu. Olshanskii and M. V. Sapir), and the construction of an infinite finitely generated group with exactly two conjugacy classes (by D. Osin, also a former student of Olshanskii).

Many of the monster groups constructed by Olshanskii and his students are, in modern terms, inductive limits of Gromov-hyperbolic groups. Hyperbolicity plays an important role in Olshanskii's method, and several well known facts about Gromov-hyperbolic groups can be traced back to papers of Olshanskii. After hyperbolic groups were formally introduced into group theory by Gromov, Olshanskii established several key facts about them including the (strong) genericity of hyperbolic groups (conjectured by Gromov), SQ-universality of non-elementary hyperbolic groups, and others.

A.Yu. Olshanskii has more than 20 PhD students . He wrote a very influential book Geometry of defining relations in groups , and several big survey papers. He was an invited speaker at the ICM in Warsaw, 1982, and many other international conferences. Olshanskii is a recipient of several prizes including the Malcev's prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Kargapolov prize, and the prize of the Moscow Mathematical Society.

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COMMENTS

  1. Sending Homework to Clients in Therapy: The Easy Way

    Homework compliance is associated with short-term and long-term improvement of many disorders and unhealthy behaviors, including anxiety, depression, pathological behaviors, smoking, and drug dependence (Tang & Kreindler, 2017). Greater homework adherence increases the likelihood of beneficial therapy outcomes (Mausbach et al., 2010).

  2. Therapy Homework: Purpose, Benefits, and Tips

    Below, Dr. Erkfitz shares some tips that can help with therapy homework: Set aside time for your homework: Create a designated time to complete your therapy homework. The aim of therapy homework is to keep you thinking and working on your goals between sessions. Use your designated time as a sacred space to invest in yourself and pour your ...

  3. Assigning Homework in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Homework can be one of many effective tools in making therapy more successful. Improving Homework Compliance You may eventually work with a client who shows little interest in homework and doesn ...

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    Practitioners looking to support these clients using homework might start by sending their clients one or two audio meditations via Quenza, such as the Body Scan Meditation or S.O.B.E.R. Stress Interruption Mediation. That way, the client will have tools on hand to help manage their anxiety in stressful situations.

  5. Benefits of Homework in CBT Online Group Therapy

    Reinforcement of new skills. Homework assignments can reinforce new skills and strategies learned in therapy sessions, allowing individuals to apply them in real-life situations. In an online group therapy environment, individuals can share their experiences with their peers and receive feedback and support, which can help them solidify their ...

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    This book is a valuable addition to the therapist's toolbox. It includes 150 activities, handouts, and strategies that can be used in group therapy. For each exercise or handout, the author breaks down the theory behind it, how to implement it, and how to understand and apply the results.

  7. Homework in Cognitive Behavioral Supervision: Theoretical Background

    The homework aims to generalize the patient's knowledge and encourage practicing skills learned during therapy sessions. Encouraging and facilitating homework is an important part of supervisees in their supervision, and problems with using homework in therapy are a common supervision agenda. ... The average patient in the homework group ...

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    The data favored the homework conditions, with the average client in the homework group reporting better outcomes than about 70% of those in the no-homework conditions. Results from 16 studies ...

  9. Why Do Some Therapists and Coaches Assign Homework

    Many times, therapists and coaches will assign homework so that you can practice the skills you explored during your session in the "real world.". "While we work together on developing insight during our sessions, it's between sessions when you have the opportunity to put these insights into practice in your life," says Christine ...

  10. Homework in psychotherapy

    Homework in psychotherapy is sometimes assigned to patients as part of their treatment.In this context, homework assignments are introduced to practice skills taught in therapy, encourage patients to apply the skills they learned in therapy to real life situations, and to improve on specific problems encountered in treatment. For example, a patient with deficits in social skills may learn and ...

  11. The importance of homework in therapy

    Homework in therapy is intended to allow the person to implement the strategies that are being learned in therapy so that they can actualize the changes and gains they are seeking to make in their life. I like to put it this way: therapy sessions do not consume a very large portion of your life. At most, we are talking about 45 to 50 minutes ...

  12. Predictors of homework engagement in group CBT for social anxiety

    The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between homework, group cohesion, and working alliance during group CBT for social anxiety disorder. Method . Participants (N = 105) with SAD engaged in 12 sessions of group CBT. Measures of homework, working alliance, and group cohesion were completed at multiple points throughout ...

  13. How to Do Homework: 15 Expert Tips and Tricks

    Creating a homework group can help with this. Bring together a group of your friends or classmates, and pick one time a week where you meet and work on homework together. You don't have to be in the same class, or even taking the same subjects— the goal is to encourage one another to start (and finish!) your assignments.

  14. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    The National PTA and the National Education Association support the " 10-minute homework guideline "—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students' needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

  15. How Do I Facilitate Effective Group Work?

    Have them post their group norms in an online forum. Include a requirement for a "team effectiveness discussion" or evaluation (self or peer) after students have some time to work together (e.g., 2nd milestone; See Oakley et al. 2004 for a "Crisis Clinic" guide). Allow them to adjust norms and set goals for the next phase of group work.

  16. Homeworks and Handouts for Clients

    Homework exercises from the AWC Blog: Walk the Talk Skill Handout -- This handout may help people who are highly self-critical benefit from feedback. Four Emotion Systems Handout -- This handout outlines four neuroscience-backed emotion systems that influence how we perceive the world and manage our emotional states.

  17. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    Too much homework may diminish its effectiveness. While research on the optimum amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, there are indications that for high school students, 1½ to 2½ hours per night is optimum. Middle school students appear to benefit from smaller amounts (less than 1 hour per night).

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    homework while traveling for my job….anxiety that was generated from discussions in my office." Generation-X. Little was needed to convince or prepare the Generation-Xers to learn; with the slightest nudge, their responses indicated that they "were ready." The nudge, however, seemed to stem

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  22. PDF Math in Moscow Basic Representation Theory Homework Assignment 6

    HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT 6 (DUE DATE: MARCH 28, 2019) Problem 6.1. Decompose every tensor product of two irreducible complex representations of the group D 6 into its irreducible representations. Problem 6.2. For all irreducible complex representations T of the group D 6 decompose S2T and 2Tinto its irreducible representations. Problem 6.3.

  23. Father arrested after continuously calling school about child's

    OXFORD, Ohio (WXIX/Gray News) - A father's growing frustrations about the amount of homework his child's school was assigning led to him being arrested.Adam Sizemore is accused of repeatedly calling his child's school to complain about the amount of homework, according to police in Oxford, Ohio.

  24. Alexander Yu

    A.Yu. Olshanskii is a Centennial Professor at the Department of Mathematics of Vanderbilt University. Before joining Vanderbilt University, he was a Professor of Mathematics in Moscow State University. His research expertise is mostly in combinatorial and geometric group theory although he has made significant contributions to other areas ...

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