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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Technique Toolbox - Inside/Outside Bag

 Inside/Outside Bag Technique

Credited to:  I have no idea.

For use with: Children or Adults, Groups/Individuals

What you will need:

school lunch sized paper bags, enough for all clients and therapist
old magazines, a variety is best
glue/rubber cement/tape

What you do:

Instruct the client(s) to cut out 8-10 things (or more, if time allows) to go on the outside of the bag that represent something about themselves people could see or know just by hanging out with them. This would include descriptions, things the person likes or enjoys, like favorite foods, clothes, electronics, and movies.

At the same time while the client is flipping through magazines, tell them that they need 8-10 cutouts for the inside of the bag, and these cutouts will represent things about themselves that people wouldn't necessarily know just by looking at them or hanging out with them. These items might include the make/model of their first car, a crown to symbolize a pageant they wont as a child, a dislike of a government figure--but usually something meaningful.

After everyone has assembled their collage on the outside and put the inside cutouts loose inside, then you have the client(s) explain his/her bag, going through each cutout and saying a bit about it, unless it's pretty self-explanatory (i.e., a client put a Coke bottle on the outside of their bag because they like Coke).


This intervention is a great ice breaker for groups or individual therapy sessions. I typically will do this exercise once with almost every age-appropriate client I have, because it serves to let me know something about them and them to know something about me.

(Caveat: I'm careful what I put on the inside of my bag, so as not to be too polarizing. For example, in a recent bag I did, I cut out a picture of a diamond ring to put inside my bag and when explaining it, I said that I had designed my own diamond wedding ring. True, but not something that will turn a client against me.)

This kind of intervention is also relaxing, and group process can be strengthened easily by encouraging the participants in the group to engage others while flipping through magazines, calling out various things they see that others might want to claim. Talk around the table can easily turn to serious things while people are cutting and pasting away, which gives opportunity to process.

Fun technique, people, and it can be vastly entertaining and revealing about people.

If you missed it, you can click here to see my devotional post on Jennifer Slattery's Live Out Loud blog.

Wordle: signature


Tracy Krauss said...

This is a great activity. It would evn translate well into the classroom, I think

Shannon said...

That's pretty cool. I've done this with a few adolescent girls and it came out pretty cool. I even printed out some adorable animal pictures as I've found that nothing expresses different emotions better than adorable animals.

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.