Grief Self-Exploration House

We modified the DBT House* activity to include a grief component.  This activity is a great way to allow a client the opportunity to explore his/her grief journey in the context of other areas in his/her life.   The activity may may be used during an individual session and it works great during family sessions.  You could also use this activity in a group setting.

Supplies Needed:

  • Paper
  • Drawing utensils (pen, markers, colored pencils)

Step 1:  Outline of house

Instruct the client to draw the outline of a house with the following requirements.

  • 4-story house
  • a door
  • a chimney
  • a flag

Note:  I’ve noticed that all my client’s draw a house that looks different and this is okay.  It seems that the house drawn is a good representation of the client’s personality, so allow them the freedom to draw it without expecting it to look a certain way.  Here is an example, but remember, it is only an example.  Encourage creativity!

house empty

Step 2: Fill in the parts of the house

Instruct the client to complete the following parts of the house:

Foundation:  On the floor of the house, write the values that govern your life.

Walls:  On the walls of the house, write the people or things who support you.

Roof:  On the roof of the house, write the things or people that protect you.

Chimney:  Coming out of the chimney, write ways that you blow off steam.

Flag:  On the flag, write what you want people to know about you.

Door:  On the door, write the things that you keep hidden from others.

1st Floor:  On the 1st floor, write words that describe your grief journey.

2nd Floor: On the 2nd floor, write things that have helped you in your grief journey.

3rd Floor: On the 3rd floor, write anything positive that may come from your grief journey.

Top Floor:  On the top floor, write a declaration of hope for your future.


House with words

*Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills, 101 Mindfulness Exercises and Other Fun Activities for Children and Adolescents: A Learning Supplement, 1st Edition by Riddoch & Eggers Huber Christensen



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