Experiential therapy is a non-traditional, non-medical form of treatment that involves actions, movements, and activities to help people recover from illness, addiction, mental health issues, and trauma. Experiential therapy targets the feelings and emotions of people while they partake in these activities. This type of therapy can help people find healthier ways to cope with internal issues without using maladaptive behaviors or turning to substances. Developed in the 1970’s by psychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers, participating in this type of treatment, can help individuals learn how to relate, develop a sense of identity, and process past behaviors and identify new coping mechanisms.
In most cases, experiential therapies are used as part of a more comprehensive treatment program in conjunction with medication, psychotherapy, and other treatments based on the person’s specific needs.
Experiential treatment can prove useful in addiction treatment, especially for those who are more closed-off to talk therapy. In addition, it can help those who are learning how to cope with stressors without turning to substances. In addition, experiential therapy can also be effective in treating co-occurring disorders by lowering stressors related to mental health issues and decreasing the possibility of relapse.
Benefits of Experiential Therapy
One of the many benefits of experiential therapy is that it provides experiences for clinicians to observe and identify situations where individuals aren’t focused on the therapy itself. In this, it can help individuals process negative emotions, resolve past conflicts and foster new problem-solving skills. In addition, experiential therapy offers a broad range of benefits including:
- Gaining a better sense of self
- Boost confidence
- Identify triggers and relapse warning signs
- Help resolve past conflict and trauma
- Teach productivity
- Teach healthier management of daily life
Experiential therapies provide support to people in recovery that medication and talk therapy alone can’t offer. It’s the ultimate opportunity for self-exploration and confidence-building because this growth happens internally. When people engage in experiential therapies, they find an important piece of themselves that may have gone missing. It allows people to prove to themselves what they are capable of, and that they can overcome anything that they endure. Launch Centers offers the a number of experiential therapies including the following:
Art therapy is one of the most popular forms of experiential therapy. It encourages people in recovery to express themselves through various forms of art, such as painting, coloring, sculpture, drawing, and more. Art therapy can help recovering addicts improve emotional intelligence, boost self-esteem, and foster a better sense of self-awareness. It can be done along or in a group, depending on the preferences of the person.
The best part about art therapy is that it doesn’t require any artistic talent in order for it to be effective. The therapy is the process of creating the art, which has been proven to help symptoms of depression, anxiety, and relieve stress. Through their art, people in recovery can reawaken memories and share stories about their lives without talking about their addiction.
Music therapy is a type of experiential therapy that encourages people to engage with music, through listening, singing, and playing musical instruments. Music therapy can help people with mental health or substance use disorders improve their mental and social wellbeing, which allows the person to connect with their inner-self.
By nature, music is incredibly engaging, and it’s a great opportunity for people in recovery to come together and bond over a common passion. Music therapy has been shown to help people overcome common conditions like depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Many addiction recovery centers incorporate music therapy into their treatment programs to help clients reduce stress, improve self-esteem, encourage socialization, and improve communication skills.
Yoga has been used as therapy for centuries and is a great way for people in recovery to improve their mindfulness and self-awareness. Practicing yoga helps people deal with stressful situations and troubling emotions that can be difficult to cope with. Instead of turning to drugs, many recovering addicts use yoga to control their cravings and promote balance in their body and mind.
Anyone can practice yoga, regardless of their flexibility or athletic ability. In yoga, focusing on your breath is at the core of every type of practice. As a result, yoga helps people tune out negative thoughts and emotions, and allows them to focus completely on themselves. It’s an effective way to promote relaxation and slow down the part of the brain that is responsible for creating anxious and stressful thoughts.
Meditation can be extremely effective during the recovery process. Similar to yoga, meditation focuses on mindfulness and intentional breathing. Mindfulness meditation helps recovering addicts understand what triggers their cravings, eases discomfort, reduces anxiety, and helps with positive thinking. The best part is that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and doesn’t require any former experience.
With meditation, it’s possible to rewire thoughts and reverse negative thought cycles that can make recovery more difficult. Medication can actually train the brain to be happy without the need for alcohol or drugs. By starting a meditation practice, people suffering from addiction or a mental health disorder can learn to live their lives more purposefully and find ways to cope with everyday stressors.
At Launch Centers, we believe in the power of experiential therapy and encourage all of our clients to engage in some form of it. We offer a variety of therapies, so every client can find what best fits their needs. At our Los Angeles addiction treatment center, each client is given a personalized treatment plan to help them make a full recovery and live a purposeful life, long after they leave our program.