Experiential therapy is a newer therapeutic approach that utilizes various activities, interventions, and techniques to help patients work through past emotional and mental struggles or trauma. Activities like crafts, music, sports, animal care, and role-playing can assist patients in identifying and working through emotions that are associated with whatever may be troubling them, like stress, self-esteem worries, substance abuse problems, or mental health struggles. Then, they’ll be able to develop coping mechanisms in order to explore and release these potentially harmful feelings.
Experiential therapy is most often used for patients dealing with trauma, substance abuse disorders, mental health illnesses, or grief. It works by allowing the individual to work through and process their feelings in a healthy manner, alongside doing activities that can help alleviate stress and create a positive emotional outlook. Art and music therapy are some of the most common methods, but physical activities and animal care work is growing in popularity as well. 1
There are various types of experiential therapy programs, each of which work to help patients in a multitude of ways. Experiential therapy techniques will be integrated into each session. Some of the most common types of experiential therapy include: 2
The various types of experiential therapy can offer different benefits; by curating a specialized treatment plan, individuals can find wellness opportunities most suited to their needs.
Experiential counseling has proven effective for a multitude of issues. Some of these include:
Not everyone will respond to certain types of experiential therapy the same, meaning that it’s important for medical professionals to work with the patient and create a treatment plan that will help foster success. For example, experiential family therapy may not work for every member of the unit, creating dissonance within the group. The therapist will then try out different types of experiential therapy, depending on what the family needs. Varying techniques may be employed throughout each session, like painting or music therapy activities. 3
Therapists will help patients focus on their own feelings, perceptions, and overall awareness of past traumatic events and work through them in a healthy manner. The “hands-on” approach works for many patients when talk therapy has previously failed.
There are multiple benefits of utilizing an experiential therapy program. Experiential therapy can be used one-on-one with a patient, or many sessions utilize experiential group therapy activities with multiple patients or family members in order to help.
As mentioned above, it is also useful for those that talk therapy was not beneficial, as it focuses on creating and experiencing instead of speaking. Talk therapy, while helpful for many, doesn’t work for everyone, potentially due to trauma, emotional or behavioral issues, or the various ways in which people process information. 4
Other benefits of experiential therapy include:
Figuring out if experiential therapy, or experiential circumstances, are right for you can be difficult, but working alongside your therapist or a medical professional can help. Experiential therapy for teens has been used for adolescents who have shown signs of behavioral or emotional troubles, which has often been helped with outdoor therapy.
While those types of experiential therapy may work for adolescents and families, there are a multitude of other reasons why it may be beneficial for you as well. These include if you or a loved one have:
If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health struggles, a family dispute, or a substance abuse disorder, we’re able to help. We have therapists who are specialized in experiential therapy techniques, such as music therapy and art therapy. They can work with you or your family in order to foster creativity and spirituality, as well as work through past issues or trauma that you may be going through.
Contact us today if you’re ready to start experiential therapy, and we’ll be with you every step of the way through recovery.