How to Help Kids Set Goals and Celebrate Successes Using a Picture Frame

Visualizing and goal-setting is such a powerful tool when counselling any client, child or adult. This is why solution-focused therapists ask the miracle question and why narrative therapists help their clients picture their stories in new ways.

With that thought in mind, here is an activity that is fun for kids or teens of any age that will help them to picture themselves as strong and capable of achieving their goals.

For this activity, your client will get to make a mat for a picture frame.

You will need:

– A picture frame with a mat or alternatively, you can make your own mat with a piece of cardstock cut to fit your frame. My frame came from the dollar store and cost about $2.
– Coloured markers
– Construction or scrapbook paper (or even magazine clippings)
– Glue, tape, or mod podge
– A picture of the client that he really likes, or take one in session and print it out.

This activity can be done at either the beginning or at the end of counselling.


1) At the beginning of counselling, work with the client to help him come up with words or phrases that will describe how he wants to feel at the end of counselling. Some examples might be brave, calm, friends, strong, get along, etc.

At the end of counselling you might choose to pick words that describe how the client feels having achieved his goals (e.g., strong, confident), as well as tools or strategies he has used to achieve his goals, and which he might want to remember to use after counselling ends (Just breathe, think it through, “I can do this,” etc.).

2) Write the words on slips of paper or clippings.

3) Glue or tape the paper onto the mat, along with other pieces of construction paper, scrapbook paper, or magazine clippings until the white space is filled (unless you want the white space). Trim the edges again if needed.

4) Put the mat and frame back together. Insert a picture of the child that he feels most closely looks the way he will look and feel once he is done counselling. If at the end of counselling, just a picture that shows his pride at what he has accomplished in therapy.

5) Let the child/young person take the frame home as a reminder of his goals and accomplishments. If you use this activity for the beginning of counselling and the client wants, you can also keep the frame in the clients file to remind him of his goals from session to session.

Here is my sample (don’t mind the stick-figure photograph):


Instead of cutting out individual slips for this sample, I chose a single piece of scrapbook paper that I liked and traced the shape of the mat onto the back of the paper. I cut out the tracing, wrote my words on the outline, and attached it to the actual cardstock mat.

A word of caution:

Be careful about the width of your frame edges. I did not realize at first, but the edges of this frame actually extend quite far over the side of the mat, so you can see some of my words are cut off in my sample. Make sure your client leaves enough space between the edge of the page and his words to avoid a disappointing outcome.

I hope your clients enjoy this picture frame mat activity and that it helps them to feeling confident and optimistic about the work of therapy.






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Carey EmmersonHow to Help Kids Set Goals and Celebrate Successes Using a Picture Frame

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