Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy

Avoid Negative People:

Most of the recovering addicts feel uncomfortable in the environment of traditional therapy centers. Experiential therapy takes these recovering addicts outdoors; into the art studios, rock climbing and plenty of other places. It includes using engaging activities that liberate the patient from the trauma of the past. Different activities like arts and crafts, role playing, music, acting, animal care, prop, guided imagery, and other forms of recreation help the patients re-experience good memories from the past and recent relationships. Some addicts feel hesitant to talk openly with their therapist in the depressing environment of therapy centers so their therapist takes them to the environment where they feel comfortable; like art studios, parks, etc. Through this therapy, a recovering patient learns how to face his problems without turning to drugs. It also aids the patient to maturely face basic issues such as repressed emotions, unconscious clashes, unresolved trauma, or poor problem-solving skills. These issues are difficult to be identified and explored using traditional talk therapy alone. This therapy helps the patients gain a greater sense of self awareness and self confidence. It gets them in touch with their deepest desires, motives, needs and both good and bad emotions.

Therapies and Activities used during Experiential Therapy:

The best way to overcome negativity is to avoid negative people. ‘’Negativity begets negativity,’’ this is particularly true in the case of

Following are the therapies and activities involved in experiential therapy:

  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Family therapy
  • Rock climbing
  • Role playing
  • Art therapy
  • Sculpting
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Rogerian therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Ropes courses

Use of Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment:

Experiential therapy is used for the treatment of trauma, grief, loss recovery, anger management, substance abuse and various forms of physical, behavioral and mental addictions. It includes physically demanding activities such as hiking, rock climbing, etc. This therapy is also very useful for other disorders co-occurring with addiction. Treatment of other disorders along with the addiction decreases mental stress and depression of the addicts. Following are the co-occurring disorders that are treated alongside with addiction:

  1. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  2. Anxiety
  3. Eating disorders
  4. Depression
  5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Types of Experiential Therapy:

Main types of experiential therapy are mentioned below:

  • Psychodrama: It is a form of experiential therapy which is directed in a group setting. One of the members plays the role of protagonist while other members of the group play supporting roles. They dramatize a specific common issue or problem, in this way, therapy clients look at this issue from a new perspective, explore internal conflicts, they try out new behaviors, and learn to control painful emotions.
  • Adventure Therapy:This therapy is fun, it includes various outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, horse riding, biking, camping and rafting. It helps the addicts in recovery by improving their communication skills and problem-solving skills when they work in a group setting. These physical activities represent various challenges of life.
  • Art Therapy: In this therapy, the patients express themselves and their inner feelings by using the language of art and music. Patients create art and process their negative, distressful and harmful emotions in a healthy manner. This therapy has proved to be very helpful in recovery of the addicts.
  • Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP): This therapy makes use of the horses during therapeutic recovery exercises. The patients do not ride on the horses, instead they take care of the horses. The patients feed, clean, harness and walk them throughout the session of this therapy. The way in which a recovering addict interacts with the horse helps in revealing his mental and emotional state. In this therapy, the horses are used as the therapeutic tool that enables clients to identify and change their self-defeating behaviors. EAP is frequently used in treatment centers for alcohol and drug addiction.
  • Play Therapy: This therapy is most commonly used for children, but it is also used for teenagers, adults, couples and families. It is particularly useful for those patients who are unable to speak or face difficulty in speaking. Patient’s behavioral problems, painful emotions, conflicts and unresolved trauma are gradually revealed through the process of playing. The therapists help their clients play and also play with them to bring about growth, recovery and healing.
  • Gestalt Therapy: This therapy is one of the oldest and best known experiential therapies. Gestalt therapy emphases on personal responsibility and addressing unfinished work. “Empty chair” is most commonly used experiential method. In this technique, the client is made to imagine someone or something (e.g. a goal, a symptom, a parent, a friend) and have a conversation with that person or thing to control over his internal conflicts and clashes.

Benefits of Experiential Therapy:

Experiential therapy is very wonderful and has many advantages. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Enhanced ability to manage stress.
  • Better self-control.
  • Improved focus and attention.
  • Improvements in self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Increased ability to be independent.
  • Better communication skills.
  • Greater cooperation with others.
  • Increase in motivation.
  • Greater ability to learn.
  • Greater sympathy, kindness and compassion.
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and stress.
  • Greater leadership skills.
  • Increase problem-solving skills.
  • Greater capacity to work as part of a team.
  • Enhanced sense of self-awareness.
  • Increased optimism regarding one’s future.
  • Development of ability to trust others.
  • Increased positivity
  • Improved sense of personal responsibility
  • Increased creativity.