Best Activities to Build Rapport With Teenage Clients (7+ Fail-Proof Exercises)

The present blogspot will be based on the question “what are the different activities to build rapport with teenage clients?”. It will be based on a list of various activities that are used with teenage clients. We will also learn the purpose served by various activities during building rapport with the teenage clients.

What are the various activities to build rapport with teenage clients?

The effective and efficient techniques used with teenage clients in therapy and counseling sessions for rapport building are:

  • Active listening skills
  • Active responding skills
  • Maintaining silence
  • Mirroring the client’s behavior
  • Play and art techniques
  • Role playing
  • Name meaning exercise
  • Motivational interviewing

Active listening skills

The most important activity to build rapport with teenage clients is active listening skills. Active listening skills while working with teenage clients include verbal and non verbal reassurances and positive  feedback.

Active listening involves being physically and psychologically present for the client. It includes using verbal affirmation like “mmhmm, ahan, ok and alright” to show interest in the client’s verbatim. Moreover, non-verbal gestures like maintaining eye contact with the teenage client, maintaining an open posture to show that you being the counselor are there to attend to the teenage client’s needs. 

Summarizing and paraphrasing whatever the teenage client has said further conveys a message to the teenage client that he/she is being heard and attended to without being judged or criticized. 

Active responding skills

Responding actively to whatever the teenage client says and throws into the session is one of the effective activities to build rapport. If the teenage client cries or shouts in the session or gets verbally abusive or has a pressurized speech related to any recent unpleasant incident the therapist does not lose his calm and patiently listens to whatever the client has to say and responds only at the end.

Responding skills with teenage clients involve asking questions to further probe in an area or knowing well when to ask what question about which specific area.

Responding skills with the teenage clients for rapport building are based on open ended questions, affirmations and reflective statements. 

Maintaining silence

Teenage clients are often defensive and thus they resist the therapist or counselor. It is usually hard to build a therapeutic alliance or establish a good rapport with such teenage clients. Such teenage clients usually sit silent in the session merely answering any questions or talking about anything with the counselor.

The key to deal with resistant teenage clients is to ask closed ended questions that yield yes/no answers and maintain silences when they don’t want to talk at all. If the counselor keeps pushing a teenage client by asking questions, it would further make the teenage client feel irritable and annoyed.

Mirroring the client’s behavior

Mirroring the teenage client behavior is an effective technique to establish rapport with the client. Sitting just as the way the teenage client is sitting while maintaining silence and imitating their nonverbal behaviors like moving legs restlessly, chewing lips, tapping fingers, pleating shirts, sitting in a laid back posture on the chair and being exactly like your teenage client appears at that moment is called mirroring the client’s behavior. 

The teenager will notice what the counselor or therapist is doing in the session. All the scenarios will turn into a humorous situation when the teenage client will notice that the counselor is doing just as the same as the teenage client. 

As a result of mirroring the teenage client’s behavior, the teenage client might just smile or laugh. This will help in breaking the silence. As a result, it will initiate rapport building between the teenage client and the therapist.

Play and art techniques

Often the teenage clients are resistant to questioning. They are defensive and they don’t want to answer any questions and share any information regarding their life. With such resistant teenage clients, it is always advisable to use play and art therapy techniques

Following are some of the play and art therapy techniques that are used for rapport building with the teenage clients:

  • Colour my day
  • Color my feelings
  • Color my life
  • My favourite family photo
  • The world of my strengths
  • Genogram
  • Sociogram
  • Balloon bursting

Colour my day

The color of my day activity is mostly used by therapists or counselors working with the teenage clients. The counselor or the therapist asks the teenage client to pick up colors that best define their day or week spent. For example a teenage client might pick up blue for excitement and pink for joy to express his feelings on the sports day event.

The teenage client then colors a sheet of the paper according to the proportions of feelings that the day or week could be divided into. In such a way, the teenage clients are better able to share their pleasant and unpleasant feelings. 

After the coloring my day activity is completed by the teenage client, the counselor or the therapist helps to analyze the colors and interpret the pleasant and unpleasant feelings identified by the client.

Today i feel

The today i feel activity is another play and art therapy used by therapists and counselors with teenage clients to build rapport with them. The teenage clients come to the session and tell the counselor that today I feel ___________ (name of any color). This is followed by the reason the teenage client feels that colour.

Through this activity, the teenage client doesn’t feel being questioned directly by the counselor to share something. The teenage clients feel much at ease while sharing their pleasant and unpleasant feelings through identifying them with colours.

Color my life

The color of my life technique is used by counselors and therapists working with the teenage clients. It is a technique based on colouring emotions related to various significant events  the counselor asks the teenage client to make a list of all the emotions he has felt in ife since first memory till date. 

The teenage client then makes a color key to designate each feeling a unique color. After that the teenage client is instructed to make a list of phases of life as per the occurrence of emotionally significant events in the phases.

 For example a teenage client might divide life into three phases; 

  • Preschool
  • Middle school
  • High School

Another teenage client who just lost his parents might divide life into;

  • Life before the death of my parents
  • Life after the death of my parents

The counselor then facilitates the teenage client to color a sheet of A-4 size paper as a phase in life. Using the colour key, the teenage client colours the pleasant and unpleasant feelings associated with each phase on the a-4 sheet. 

In the end, all phases are placed one after another to make a timeline. The feelings related to each phase are interpreted and analyzed with the help of the therapist. 

The therapist or the counselor asks the following questions from the teenage client:

  • How do you feel after doing this activity?
  • Which one among these phases of your life was most difficult for you to deal with?
  • Which phase of your life was the best ?
  • Which phase do you think has made your life suffer the most?
  • Which phase, if taken out of your life, would make your life altogether better?

The interpretation of the above questions makes the counselor working with the teenage client build rapport with the teenage client and gain information for case formulation that otherwise would have been difficult to gain from the teenage client.

My favourite family moment

The activity of my favourite family moment is done while counseling the teenage clients to build rapport and therapeutic alliance. The counselor asks the teenage client to think of the best family memory. He then asks questions related to the family memory and extends the questions towards the general family dynamics. Moving from specific to general, the counselor is able to gain all the information without making the teenage client feel threatened or insecure about sharing the information.

The world of my strengths

The world of my strengths is utilized in teenage counseling to build rapport with the teenage clients. During the initial sessions the counselor draws a round shape to symbolize the world and asks the teenage client to fill that world with various objects that signify the strengths of the teenage client.

Thus instead of asking the teenage client directly, what are your strengths? The counselor uses this activity to gain insight about the strengths of the teenage client.


A genogram is a drawing activity that is used to gain knowledge about the family dynamics and the quality of bond the family members share with each other. A counselor uses genogram activity with clients who are resistant or defensive to provide any relevant information on their own. The genogram activity helps in case formulation. 

As no direct questioning is involved in genogram activity, the teenage clients provide information during the activity without feeling threatened or without filtering the information out. A teenage client shares the information one by one while drawing the genogram. 

The therapist comes to know which family member is closest to the teenage client, relationship of the teenage client with the siblings, relationship of the teenage client with the parental figures and the emotional affiliation of teenage clients with the immediate family members.


As genogram activity is used to build therapeutic alliance while obtaining information about the family dynamics, similarly a sociogram is used to obtain information about the social life of the teenage clients. The therapist fgets to know the friends and acquaintances the teenage client is close to,any social media friends that the teenage client has, any opposite gender friends that the teenage client has and the quality of bond the teenage client shares with peers.

The teenage client is able to provide information during the sociogram activity and build a therapeutic alliance with the counselor or the therapist.

Analysis of the sociogram activity along the genogram activity provides some very relevant information about the teenage client without breaking their defensiveness.

Balloon bursting

The balloon bursting activity is used as a supportive work or activity while working with the teenage client in initial sessions. It helps to get over the client’s resistance and defensiveness in the initial sessions.

The counselor introduces the activity to the teenage client telling them that it’s an activity to see how many balloons you can blow and burst in a span of 5 minutes. The client blows and bursts the balloons and thus is able to exhale and inhale.

This blow and burst balloons activity is an alternative to breathing exercise, while being an icebreaker to start active communication between the counselor and the teenage client it also enables the teenage client to rid off any inner build of unpleasant feelings.

Role playing

The role playing activity works very well with the teenage clients. It helps build rapport with the clients. The therapist gets involved with the teenage client in their favourite role play. The role plays can be best done in play rooms where the counseling session setting can be changed to fit the role play scenario. 

The role plays can range from doctor patient role play to a meeting with the tooth fairy or batman meets superman. The main idea behind role play activity is to use play techniques to build therapeutic alliances with the teenage client.

Name meaning exercise

Name meaning exercise is used in teenage counseling in the very initial session. It is used to establish rapport and gain insight about the teenage client’s self awareness. The therapist asks the teenage client the following questions in the name meaning exercise:

  • What is your name?
  • What is the meaning of your name?
  • What do you think is the positive influence of the meaning of your name?
  • What do you think is the negative  influence of the meaning of your name?
  • Do you like your name?
  • What would you like to name yourself if given an opportunity to change your name?

Motivational interviewing

The motivational interviewing technique is used with teenage clients while providing brief counseling sessions. The motivational interviewing involves inculcating an insight in the client about the merits and demerits of sustaining their current situation or changing it for better.

The motivational interviewing technique helps build rapport with the teenage client  during the short counseling sessions that are aimed at solution focused counseling.


The present blogspot focused on the various activities that can be used by counselors and therapists to build rapport and therapeutic alliance with the teenage client. We learn the various activities and interventions that can be used to build rapport with the teenage clients. Effective communication strategies, active listening and responding along play and art activities are used  to build professional rapport with the teenage clients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): activities to build rapport with teenage clients

How do you build rapport with the teenage clients?

Building rapport with the teenage clients involves getting them busy in various play and art activities during the counseling sessions and talking about their interests and the things they like to do in life. Effective communication, active listening and responding skills also help in establishing rapport with the teenage client.

How do you build rapport with a child client?

While counseling a child client, the therapist needs to include play and art activities at maximum to establish a good rapport. Similarly singing poems or rhymes with the child client, playing hopping frog, dancing with them on music, playing hopscotch, playing bat ball and other such spontaneous activities are used to build rapport with a child client.

The aim behind such activities with a child client is to ease their comfort related to the counseling sessions, the counseling room and the counselor.

Why is rapport building necessary?

Rapport building is a necessary initial step of counseling with any population. It requires the therapist or the counselor to establish therapeutic alliance with the client and gain their trust so they are able to share their true feelings and thoughts without being insecure about sharing them.

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