Traditionally, addiction treatment in America has focused upon educational and process groups and individual therapy as primary treatment tools. Each person is different – their experiences with substance use, their backgrounds, their personalities, and their communication styles. Just as individuals differ, so must our approach to addiction treatment. People are not one-size-fits-all, and neither is recovery. Experiential therapy can help you recover from addiction.

Experiential Therapy: What is it?

Experiential therapies are engaging activities designed to help participants explore their thoughts and feelings in non-traditional, and sometimes non-verbal, ways. These therapeutic techniques use expressive tools and activities to help clients explore past experiences and feelings in an active, hands-on manner. Experiential therapies can be used in individual, group, and family sessions.

Some forms of experiential therapy are fashioned to help participants revisit past experiences, or to stimulate access to the thoughts and emotional responses to those experiences in a creative way, in a supportive environment. Outpatient treatment providers, as well as residential addiction treatment programs, offer different experiential therapies and opportunities.

Examples of Experiential Therapy Methods:

  • Psychodrama
  • Art therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Dance
  • Expressive writing, journaling, and poetry
  • Rock climbing
  • Ropes course
  • Equine therapy
  • Adventure therapy

Is Experiential Therapy Effective?

Experiential therapy can be effective as part of treatment for addiction as well as behavioral and psychological issues. Most often, when someone enters addiction treatment, it is clear that their struggle with alcohol or drugs has been accompanied or perpetuated by depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges, and sometimes by disordered eating, trauma, or other issues. Some clients find it easier to access their thoughts and feelings through a creative or experiential process than by talk-therapy alone. They note that some insight were not accessible to them even after many attempts at individual or group psychotherapy alone. Through different means of exploration, clients learn about their own needs and desires, and they develop profound insights that lead to lasting healing and personal growth.

A comprehensive, integrated, individualized treatment program includes evidence-based psychotherapies, education, and experiential therapies. As you explore options for treatment, ask your treatment provider about the therapies available to you as part of their programming. If you are looking for a rehab that incorporates experiential therapy, please give us call. We can help.

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