Because experiential therapy is rather broad and can be hard to define, there are lots of misconceptions regarding what experiential therapies are. This is because experiential therapy is not just one form of intervention, but is rather several different types of therapeutic interventions used to focus on emotional processing, interactions with others, creativity, and reflections on events that go beyond traditional talk therapy.
The foundation on which experiential therapy stands is that one’s perception informs one’s behavior. Experiential therapy uses expressive tools, activities, and other methods to recreate specific situations in recovering individuals’ lives to address patterns of thought and behavior. Some examples of experiential therapy include art therapy, psychodrama, adventure therapy, and activity therapy. All of these experiential options can be beneficial in addiction recovery.
How Does Experiential Therapy Work?
While experiential therapy should not be the primary form of treatment used in addressing addiction, it is effective when used in tandem with traditional treatment modalities. Experiential therapy aims to help make individuals more aware of their internal representations of themselves and the world. Getting the individual involved in processes of interaction or creation allows them to develop insights and realizations into the nature of their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences. When individuals learn about the nature of their own needs, proactive methods to address these needs are established.
In experiential therapy, individuals are given the chance to directly experience their emotions. This allows them to focus on the experience, understanding, and re-conceptualization of their emotions and how they affect their behavior. In doing so, individuals can learn positive emotions such as forgiveness, love, and peace with renewed insight and perspective. These healthy coping mechanisms and positive emotions can set clients up for a successful sober life after treatment and help them deal with everyday stressors and triggers.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy has been around since 1942 and is a commonly used experiential treatment modality that centers around the creative process as a healing tool. Art therapy can include painting, sculpting, photography, and more. It is used to help individuals externalize emotions through non-destructive means, helping the individual gain insight into what they are feeling. When individuals participate in art therapy, it makes them feel empowered by exploring their symbolic work and their growing ability to solve problems.
Some benefits of art therapy include expressing emotions, improving self-esteem, relieving stress, and improving symptoms of anxiety and depression when coping with the addiction recovery process. All of these benefits can help recovering individuals work toward creating and maintaining a sober lifestyle.
What Is Psychodrama?
Psychodrama is a therapeutic treatment modality that allows individuals to explore issues by acting out events from their past. Therapists may guide individuals through role-playing to work through problems. The goal of psychodrama is to bring new insights, resolve issues, and practice new life skills and behaviors.
Because psychodrama creates a better understanding and resolution of trauma, it also increases participants’ sense of confidence and self-efficacy that can help them throughout their treatment process and even after treatment. It can also improve feelings of safety, self-image, and coping skills, all of which can aid in recovery as well. Because of the group and expressive nature of psychodrama, it can also help improve social skills.
What Is Adventure Therapy?
Another type of experiential therapy is adventure therapy. This treatment modality has individuals take part in various adventures in a safe environment. The main element is adventure therapy is the perceived risk, which causes individuals to rely on the help of others and step out of their comfort zone. It works by stimulating the brain with different activities and environments, allowing participants to overcome perceived limitations of self and increase resiliency.
Adventure therapy has been known to increase self-esteem and promote growth and development throughout the recovery process. It also encourages a sense of responsibility and building of positive relationships that can be carried on even after treatment. Lastly, adventure therapy teaches better communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
What Is Activity Therapy?
Activity therapy is similar to experiential therapy itself in the sense that it encompasses numerous different interventions. Each intervention engages the individual in creative experiences that help positively alter the individual’s thought processes. Activity therapy provides recovering individuals with physical and mental challenges and makes it possible to shift their attention from the pains and discomforts of addiction recovery to something productive and rewarding.
Activity therapy gives individuals a chance to reconnect with their bodies and minds in ways that may have been previously obscured by substance use. Some examples of these activities include sports, music therapy, creative writing, and journaling.
Experiential Therapy and Addiction Treatment
Experiential therapy can positively impact the recovery process in numerous ways. It can reduce issues with denial, foster cooperation in treatment, develop insight, and develop a more positive approach to addiction treatment.
Experiential therapy is probably not what comes to mind when most people think of therapy because it involves a physical, hands-on activity or experience that provides interactive opportunities for individuals and groups to open up. It works well in tandem with traditional treatment methods in addiction recovery, allowing clients to gain new healthy coping skills to carry into their sober lives. If you think experiential treatment may work well for you, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Bella Monte Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, California, we combine experiential treatment methods with traditional treatment methods to create a higher potential for success in and after recovery. All of our addiction treatments are individualized and comprehensive to address each client’s unique needs. We are here to give you the help you deserve. For more information, call (800) 974-1938 today.