experiential therapy

Experiential Therapy

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating mental health conditions that include treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since mental illness and addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Information on Experiential Therapy
Experiential therapy is a technique that combines expressive tools with activities, such as role-playing or acting, arts and crafts, playing instruments, caring for animals, guided imagery, and several forms of recreation to re-experience emotional situations. A person focuses on activities and begins to identify feelings associated with success, disappointment, responsibility, and self-esteem. They will work with an experiential therapist who can help them release and explore their feelings of hurt, anger, and shame as they relate to past, stressful events that may have been blocked out or still linger. 
Who Should Consider Experiential Therapy?
Experiential therapy is generally reserved for people experiencing the following: 
  • Trauma
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Grief and loss
  • Anger management
  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction
  • Compulsive behaviors, such as gambling
Doctors and therapists also recommend people who wish to be free of emotional pain to try this form of therapy. Experiential therapy can help a person change the nature of their current and future relationships so that they can live up to their full potential. This form of therapy is available in clinical and medical settings, which includes various recovery, treatment, and rehabilitation programs. A person can participate in experiential therapy individually or in a group setting. 
One of the primary principals of experiential therapy is that one’s perception determines one’s behavior. By releasing repressed negative emotions related to the past, a person is better able to experience positive emotions such as peace, love, forgiveness, and mindfulness (staying in the present moment), which enhances their perception of reality. This type of therapy can take a variety of forms, and it’s client-centered so that a therapist will honor a person’s preferences. For example, one client may be too shy to do theater, but they love animals, so they can participate in animal-assisted therapy. Another client may be allergic to various animals but loves performing in front of others, so they can opt for theater as their form of expression.  Since experiential therapy doesn’t focus on one specific form of treatment, a person will experience different types of hands-on interventions in addition to psychotherapy (talk therapy). By consulting with a therapist, they can gain a profound understanding of how to process their emotions, get in touch with their creative side and subconscious thoughts, and improve their interactions with others. A person can learn to reflect on their experiences more comfortably so that they can make responsible decisions in the future.  Conversations with a therapist can take place while the person performs the activity or in a private counseling session. 
Treatment is within Reach
Experiential techniques are effective in assisting individuals with substance use disorders, particularly for those who may find it challenging to interact with others in traditional therapy. However, it’s important to note that these interventions are not a primary form of treatment, and they’re used in conjunction with other treatments such as supervised detoxification, substance abuse therapy, and support group involvement. Some people stay at an inpatient treatment center that offers all of the above programs and personal care.