Experiential Therapy

Some recovering addicts feel uncomfortable working through their problems in a traditional therapy setting. Experiential Therapy takes addiction treatment into non-traditional places in order to meet the needs of the individual.

What is Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapies are hands-on, engaging activities that help recovering addicts process and cope with past trauma. Experiential therapy uses nontraditional treatment settings to help addicts work through repressed feelings and emotions.

Some recovering addicts may be uncomfortable talking to therapists in a traditional counseling setting. Experiential therapy is designed to help those in recovery develop a stronger sense of self by coming to terms with buried emotions and past traumas. Through experiential therapy, a recovering addict can learn how to face these issues without turning to drugs for an escape.

Common experiential therapies include:

  • Sculpting
  • Rock climbing
  • Ropes courses
  • Music therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Art therapy
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Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Physically demanding activities like rock-climbing and hiking help simulate real-world stress for recovering addicts to overcome. Experiential therapy teaches recovering addicts how to cope with everyday stressors.

Recovering addicts may be less guarded during experiential therapy, allowing for more accurate patient evaluations for therapists and mental healing for addicts.

Experiential therapy has also proven effective in treating many disorders that co-occur with addiction. Treating these disorders alongside addiction can help decrease mental health-related stress and triggers, reducing the likelihood of relapse.

Experiential therapy has been used to treat co-occurring mental disorders. These include:

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Therapies and Techniques in Experiential Therapy

During an experiential therapy session, therapists guide recovering addicts through several treatment exercises, tailored to their specific treatment needs.

Common techniques used in experiential therapy include:

  • Equine-assisted psychotherapy – Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) includes the use of horses during therapeutic recovery exercises. Patients won’t ride horses, but they will groom, feed, harness and walk them throughout the session. The different ways recovering addicts interact with the horses can reveal insights about their emotional and mental states.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – EMDR is a therapy where patients visualize a traumatic event while a therapist leads them through specific eye movements. EMDR has been proven effective in helping those in recovery alleviate negative emotions and feelings of distress that can lead to substance abuse.
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Experiential Therapy and Other Treatments

Experiential therapy is often used alongside traditional rehabilitation techniques to create a comprehensive treatment program for recovering addicts.

Experiential Therapy works well with other psychotherapy techniques like Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to focus on changing self-destructive behaviors. These activities allow recovering addicts to apply the life skills they’re taught during psychotherapy sessions in practical, hands-on environments.

Get the Complete Treatment You Deserve

If you are having problems with substance abuse, give us a call to find you an addiction treatment program. Some drug rehab centers specialize in experiential therapies, with obstacle courses, rock climbing walls and art studios on their premises. Treatment centers across the country have the medical and therapeutic resources you need to overcome drug addiction.