What is Experiential Therapy?
Read on to learn more about what experiential therapy is, along with the many benefits it provides.
The information included below is presented as a generalized and educational overview of this subject. The specific details of treatment protocols mentioned in this article may not reflect the protocols utilized at Anew Treatment Center.
If you would like to learn more about Anew Treatment Center's individualized programs to aid those struggling with mental health disorders, please reach out to us at 480-270-0024.
Experiential Therapy Fundamentals
Experiential therapy is a type of therapy that involves reenacting and re-experiencing emotional situations from past and recent relationships. This is achieved by using experiential therapy activities and tools like role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery, or various forms of recreation.
Experiential therapy is a broad term that refers to a variety of therapies and therapeutic interventions that fixate on actual involvement with a variety of experiences, such as emotional processing, interpersonal interactions, creativity, and event reflections that are not limited to traditional therapy and medication.1
How Does Experiential Therapy Work?
Experiential therapy is built on the concept that one's perspective shapes one's thoughts and behavior. It works by allowing patients to relive their previously suppressed negative thoughts and feelings through different and new outlets. The patient will be able to examine and relieve their negative feelings, stress, and humiliation that have been repressed or ignored in the past.
Painful sentiments resulting from a traumatic or shameful experience can sometimes remain and negatively influence the patient's life and habits. These emotions and compulsions are treated through experiential therapy.
Types of Experiential Therapy
Experiential therapy is diverse in that it encompasses a wide range of approaches and forms. The various types of experiential therapy are briefly explained below.
Drama therapy, often known as psychodrama, is the most prevalent type of experiential therapy. It involves using drama techniques to help release suppressed emotions associated with a particular experience. Psychodrama can also be employed as one of the experiential activities for group therapy.
Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music treatments by a practitioner who has undergone experiential therapy training and has completed an accredited music therapy curriculum to achieve individualized goals within a therapeutic partnership.
This type of therapy, which is most commonly used with children, uses therapeutic play to help children work through psychological issues that they may not be able to articulate verbally.
Wilderness and adventure therapy are examples of outdoor therapies. It incorporates outdoor excursions, adventurous activities, and therapeutic sessions.3
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is used in a wide range of mental health settings. This therapy is based on the special bond that exists between humans and animals, particularly those with the appropriate temperament and training for treatment.4
What Does Experiential Therapy Treat?
Experiential therapy is effective in treating a wide range of mental disorders. Some of these include:
Many of the types of experiential therapy treatments listed above can help with denial issues, increase treatment cooperation, build insight, and create a more positive approach to substance use disorder treatment.
Experiential therapy is an effective form of trauma treatment. It creates a safe space for people to connect with and then release traumatic feelings and experiences.
Family Conflict and Communication Issues
Experiential family therapy addresses underlying issues in families. For families with relational and traumatic situations, a good approach might be employing symbolic experiential family therapy that allows deep conversations and reveals deep emotions. Experiential family therapy's key concepts lie in creating experiences for the family to learn and grow.6
Experiential therapy activities can aid patients in gaining a more realistic awareness of their eating disorder as well as helping to create a more positive self-image. Every component of an eating disorder can be visualized, expressed, felt, and projected in an experiential way to aid treatment.
Adolescent Behavioral Problems
Experiential therapy for teens is helpful in treating behavioral problems through various activities that can help identify and deal with subconscious negativity from past experiences which affect current behavioral patterns.
Benefits of Experiential Treatment
There are multiple benefits for those that choose to utilize experiential treatment options.
Experiential therapy intervention creates an avenue for patients to identify and recreate past experiences and trauma. It also aids in the release of the negativity associated with those experiences that may have previously hindered healing.
In process experiential therapy, the therapist uses appropriate active interventions to help the client's affective and cognitive processing of the experience, facilitating the resolution of painful emotions, which allows for better and more thorough emotional processing.7
People tend to run away from thoughts that cause them distress, which usually result from past unpleasant experiences. With experiential therapy intervention, such thoughts and feelings are confronted, leading the patient to heal more effectively.
One’s engagement in experiential group therapy activities like psychodrama helps the individual to see things from other people’s point of view. This can help facilitate forgiveness and love. This is a benefit one can expect from group therapies like symbolic experiential family therapy.
Experiential therapy allows for self-expression in a creative manner. This makes it relatively easier to communicate challenges and problems.
Is Experiential Therapy Right for Me?
Experiential therapy techniques can be particularly effective for a large variety of people.
Endured Physical or Sexual Abuse in the Past
Physical or sexual abuse is traumatic for many people, and experiential therapy can help victims explore the residual feelings and emotions they may have repressed in order to make way for healing.
For Those That Feel Uncomfortable Talking About Their Past
Experiential therapy is different from traditional talk therapy because there are several experiential therapy techniques that can be employed by patients in expressing themselves. Also, engaging in experiential group therapy can motivate others involved to open up about their past experiences.
Trouble Expressing Thoughts and Feelings
Clients are directed to recreate instances in which they experienced strong emotions and to actually be present with those emotions in order to develop stronger emotional openness and resilience in the face of future challenges.8
Want to Experience Music, Art, or Animals
Anyone who feels much more comfortable with arts, music, or animals in their recovery process can try out any of the types of experiential therapy best suited to their likes.
Experiential Treatment at Anew Treatment Center
At Anew Treatment Center, we understand that you may find it difficult to entirely move on from traumas or simply heal from disorders and mental health issues. We are here to help guide you through our experiential therapy programs to get the support you or your loved ones might need to achieve your goals. We employ professionals who have gone through extensive experiential therapy training to assist with and lead these programs.
Experiential Therapy Activities at Anew
Some of the experiential therapy activities we offer are:
Women’s Experiential Therapy Program at Anew Treatment Center
We also offer a Women’s Experiential Therapy Program to help women process their past in a healthy and safe way. We assist you in taking charge of your life by addressing every area of it. We understand that our experiential circumstances and history form who we become. We value your unique life experiences and will help you express yourself in the most honest and genuine way possible. This is the part of you that'll provide you with the strength and resolve you'll need to make a successful and long-lasting recovery.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about what we have to offer or if you would like to schedule an assessment.
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