Behavioral activation (BA) is a robustly evidence-based treatment for depression. BA interventions aim to help clients to increase their levels of rewarding activity even if they do not initially feel motivated to do so. Increasing activity provides people with more opportunities to experience pleasure and achievement, to have positive social interactions, and to act in accordance with their values.
Helping clients to choose which activities to target during behavioral activation can be accomplished in a variety of ways: activity monitoring can be used to identify currently rewarding activities; an exploration of client values is a popular way of helping clients to connect with valued life domains; and choosing ‘essential’ activities (such as washing or shopping) is a helpful approach when the client’s activity levels are initially very low. Some depressed clients may have difficulty choosing activities to target during BA, even after phases of activity monitoring or exploration of values. Using an activity menu is a practical solution which overcomes the obstacle of clients having to self-generate activity targets. This Activity Menu presents example activities for a number of important domains encompassing: animals, be active, clean, connect with people, cook, create, expression, kindness, learn, mend, mind, music, nature, plan, read, schedule, self-care, shop, travel, try something new, watch, write.
“Remember that one of the best ways to overcome depression is to do more of the things that give you feelings of achievement, pleasure, or connections to other people. There are lots of ways to choose activities that lead to those feelings: you can monitor your activity to examine what is already working well, or you can explore your values and reflect on what really matters to you deep down. A very quick way of getting active is to choose things from an activity menu that you think you might find rewarding. Would you be willing to have a look at the activities on this form and see which ones you would like to try?”
- Hopko, D. R., Lejuez, C. W., Ruggiero, K. J., et al (2003b) Contemporary behavioural activation treatments for depression: procedures, principles, and progress. Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 699–717.
- Martell, C. R., Addis, M. E. & Jacobson, N. S. (2001). Depression in Context: Strategies for Guided Action. Norton.