What is Experiential Therapy?
When it comes to mental health and substance abuse treatments, clinical therapies aren’t the only option. Instead of relying on medication and talk therapy alone, many mental health professionals are incorporating experiential therapies into their treatment programs. Experiential therapies have been shown to be extremely effective throughout the recovery process and can help people maintain long-term sobriety.
What are Experiential Therapies?
Experiential therapy is a non-traditional, non-medical form of treatment that involves engaging activities designed to help people recover from illnesses and heal trauma. Experiential therapies target the feelings and emotions of people dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues, and these therapies can help people find healthier ways to cope with internal issues without turning to alcohol or drugs.
Experiential therapies can be effective for anyone who is struggling with an addiction or a mental health disorder, regardless of the type of condition, drug of choice, or severity of the addiction. It’s also a great alternative for people who would benefit from psychotherapy but aren’t comfortable speaking with a therapist or attending group sessions.
The idea behind experiential therapies is that people in recovery can let their guard down. The goal of addiction treatment is to give people another way to express themselves and work through various issues. Some people are able to process their feelings and emotions in much better ways through this form of therapy. It can also make people more receptive to opening up about their struggles, which can help them heal faster.
In most cases, experiential therapies are used as part of a more comprehensive treatment program of medication, psychotherapy, and other treatments based on the person’s specific needs. At Launch Centers, we offer a variety of experiential treatments, so every client can find an activity that they want to explore.
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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 alone 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 work. The therapy is the process of creating art, which has been shown to help people improve symptoms of depression and 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 abuse 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, autism, and personality disorders. Many recovery centers incorporate music therapy into their treatment programs to help clients reduce stress, improve self-esteem, encourage socialization and improve their communication skills.
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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 their 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 or 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. Meditation 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.
Experiential Therapy with Others
Experiential therapy doesn’t have to be done alone. In fact, many people benefit more from experiential therapies when they’re done in a group setting. During the recovery process, it’s common for people to work on mending or strengthening relationships in their lives. Experiential family therapy can be a great way to spend time with loved ones in a relaxed setting without the presence of triggers.
Experiential group therapy can also be effective for people in recovery who are working on their social skills. It’s common for art therapy, music therapy, yoga and outdoor therapy to be done in a group setting, where people can work together to solve problems, share their emotions, and work on their communication skills.
Where to Find Experiential Therapies in Los Angeles
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 the growth happens internally. When people engage in experiential therapies, they find an important piece of themselves that went missing. It allows people to prove to themselves what they are capable of, and that they can overcome anything that they endure.
At Launch Centers, we believe in the power of experiential therapy, and encourage all of our clients to engage in some form of experiential therapy. We offer a variety of therapies, so every client can find an activity that fits their interests and passions. At our Los Angeles 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.