What is Experiential Therapy?

experiential therapy

There are two main types of therapy that are typically utilized in addiction treatment settings – traditional ‘talk’ therapy and experiential therapy. When most people think of attending ‘therapy’, they imagine sitting down in a dimly lit room and spilling the beans to an attentive stranger. Experiential therapy, however, involves actions, activities, and movements – nothing near the standard and expected method of therapeutic treatment. We at Next Chapter believe that a careful combination of both talk and experiential therapy proves the most beneficial to comprehensive recovery, thus we have developed a treatment plan revolving heavily around both methodologies.

Experiential Therapy and Addiction Recovery

Originally developed in the 1970s, experiential therapy encourages patients to uncover and address deep or subconscious issues through a variety of expressive activities, such as role playing, the use of artist expression, guided imagery, and a wide range of other related techniques. Experiential therapy is actually a category of therapeutic practice. Under this category fall many different types of therapy, such as:

  • Equine Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Recreational Therapy

There are many benefits when it comes to experiential therapy. One of the biggest advantages is the ability of the therapist to observe the patient during an activity where the patient is not necessarily focused on the therapy itself. Patients are exceedingly more likely to let their guards down than they typically are during one-on-one or group talk therapy sessions. Through experiential activities, patients will be given the opportunity to experience successes, build self-esteem, and adequately uncover potential emotional obstacles.

Emotional development and personal growth are common side effects of such therapy when it is professionally operated and effective. After the process has been completed, the patient and the experiential therapist will typically sit down to discuss the outcome. In this setting, patients will have the opportunity to evaluate his behaviors, and what previous experiences may have prompted those specific behaviors. Another unexpected benefit is the fact that the activities the patients participate in may serve as newfound hobbies or leisure activities to fill their free time – time that would have previously been spent obtaining and using drugs or alcohol.

Experiential Therapy at Next Chapter

This specific method of therapeutic practice has proven exceptionally beneficial for teenagers and adults struggling with substance abuse disorders, trauma, mood disorders, grief and loss, compulsive gambling, sex or love addiction, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and numerous other related conditions. At Next Chapter, we utilize several trusted methods of experiential therapy, such as psychodrama and art therapy. We have found that our more closed-off clients are extremely receptive to such methodologies, thus we have worked to formulate a comprehensive program of therapeutic recovery that features both traditional talk and experiential therapies. For more information on experiential therapy or on our specific program of recovery, please contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.