As therapeutic methods continue to evolve, those in the mental health field keep discovering new ways to help people heal. While traditional therapy can go a long way to help people recover from substance abuse issues or a mental illness, alternative methods can be useful in helping people who have unique problems they need to address. Experiential therapy is growing in popularity as an additional therapy option for those looking for supplemental treatment methods.
Experiential therapy is different than traditional talk therapy because it involves more actions, movements and other means of expression for patients to work through their issues. People can uses tools like role playing, props, arts and crafts, animal care, and other types of recreation to explore their feelings or re-experience emotional situations from their past. Experiential therapy helps to reframe difficult memories so that the patient can more easily identify and release their negative feelings.
When people are involved in experiential therapy they can approach their problems in a different way that may be more effective than simply talking about them in a typical therapy session. Experiential therapy can encompass many types of activities all of which are designed to allow patients a new perspective and a new way to express their feelings. People can use experiential therapy as part of their regular treatment program for illnesses like depression, addiction, anxiety or other disorders.
What to Expect in Experiential Therapy
Every type of experiential therapy can be completely different from animal therapy, art, music, adventure therapy, psychodrama and others. Whatever type of activity you are involved in there will be a therapist that will guide you through the process and help you take in valuable lessons from the experience. While in experiential therapy people are often able to confront very deep fears, anxieties and personal pain that may be blocking them from recovery.
Many of the issues that people address in experiential therapy are subconscious feelings that they don’t know how to resolve by talking about them. Certain experiences are likely to bring up deeper feelings and people will be able to let their guard down around others. Experiential therapy can put people in a more vulnerable state that enhances their therapeutic journey and lets them become more comfortable in treatment.
Some examples of experiential therapy include taking care of animals such as horses, also known as equine therapy or camping, and hiking in wilderness therapy. They may also work on artistic projects such as painting, sculpture, writing or playing music. Patients can learn all kinds of skills in these situations including problem-solving, self-awareness, interpersonal skills and creative expression.
Benefits of Experiential Therapy
The reason that experiential therapy is becoming a more popular alternative treatment is because it takes people out of the traditional therapy environment where they may feel stuck at certain points. It can be especially useful for patients that are not fully in touch with their emotions or have difficult expressing their feelings because they are used to hiding or suppressing them. Experiential therapy can help bring those things to the surface and make it easier for patients to be vulnerable with their therapist.
During a session of experiential therapy, patients learn how to overcome obstacles and experience success in different activities. They can start to build up more self-esteem and confidence in themselves as they learn new skills and take on challenges in new settings. The therapist supervises their experiences and guides them to take note of what they’ve accomplished, always encouraging them in a positive way.
The main benefit of being involved in experiential therapy is the potential for tremendous personal growth and empowerment. It also helps people get better in touch with their true selves because as they are focused on the task at hand they will become more genuine and unguarded in their manner. For people that have trouble expressing themselves or those that hold back who they are for fear of being judged, it can provide a powerful transformation.
Experiential therapy can be useful in a wide variety of different scenarios for unique mental, emotional and behavioral problems. This type of therapy is often used for people struggling with addiction but it can also be used for issues with trauma, eating disorders, anger management, grief and loss recovery and mental illnesses like depression. Whatever particular issue a person is going through, experiential therapy can be tailored to help them address their problems through the therapist’s help.
Not all treatment programs offer types of experiential therapy so it is important to check with your recovery program to find out if they have any type of program. For those interested in experiential therapy they may be able to find separate programs that have the type of treatment they are looking for. Talking to your therapist about getting involved in experiential therapy can help you find the right solution to address your emotional issues.