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Team Building Activities for Human Service Professionals

by Tara Duggan

Human service staff members typically work with clients to develop treatment plans and help with daily activities, such as eating, bathing and moving from one place to another. These workers also help clients determine eligibility and apply for services and benefits. You can conduct team-building activities, such as outdoor games and indoor exercises, to build camaraderie, beat the stress associated with serving others and develop the communication skills required by human service professionals.

Improving Communication Skills

Human service professionals need to be able to listen carefully to their clients and interpret their needs. One way to practice and develop this skill involves drawing. During a staff meeting or workshop, divide a large group into pairs. Give each pair a pencil, paper and some shapes. Instruct the partners to sit back to back. One person tells the other person how to draw one of the shapes, without telling the person the shape. Then, they switch roles. After 20 minutes, stop the activity and ask the pairs to discuss how it went. This debrief should reveal how difficult it can be to both send and receive messages.

Practicing Compassion

Providing support to sick, elderly or disabled people can be very stressful. To set up an activity that helps human service professionals have some fun, learn to work as a team and experience firsthand how difficult it can be to rely on help from others, divide a large group into pairs. Blindfold one person, who must remain silent. Instruct the second person to provide verbal directions to the other person to guide him in walking across the room, avoiding obstacles. Switch roles and after the activity completes, provide time for discussion.

Avoiding Stereotypes

Human service professionals must make their clients feel comfortable, discuss sensitive issues and deal with difficult situations. They need to work with many different personality types and avoid stereotyping, building a relationship with each new client. To recognize how stereotypes limit the ability to think with an open mind, create name tags with different celebrity names. Place one on each person’s back. Challenge each person to figure out whose name is listed by asking questions. After 20 minutes, gather the group back together for discussion.

Developing Problem Solving Skills

Clients have many problems that human service professionals must help solve. This often involves working with many different agencies and organizations. To practice collaborative and problem-solving skills, tell a large group to imagine their plane has just crashed on a deserted island. Give the participants a list of 30 items on the plane and challenge them to select only 12 to keep on the island for their survival. This activity typically leads to spirited conversation. After 30 minutes, stop the conversation and discuss the results of the process.

About the Author

Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.

Photo Credits

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