Overcoming addiction to alcohol or drugs usually involves a combination of treatment modalities. Depending on the severity of the addiction, as well as wants and needs, treatment may include a treatment center, individual counseling, medically assisted treatment, outpatient therapy, 12-Step support groups, and more.
In addition to the more traditional addiction treatment like you find in rehabs and treatment centers, there are alternative therapies that are helping individuals recover too. Experiential therapy is one type of therapy that has a solid track record for helping patients face, feel, and heal deep rooted traumas that may be holding them back.
This type of therapy was developed back in the 70’s to give clients a chance to do more than simply talk in therapy. According to Psychology Today, experiential therapy is a “therapeutic technique that uses expressive tools and activities, such as role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery, or various forms of recreation to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships.”
As you can see, it’s not just one particular therapy. Rather, it’s a category of experiences that help a person start to recognize various emotions that they’ve associated with sadness, disappointment, success, self-worth, and so on.
Types of Experiential Therapy
There are various types of experiential therapy programs that can help one on their path toward recovery from addiction. Here are some examples of experiential therapy:
Adventure Therapy – Include adventures like ziplining, wilderness experiences, mountain climbing, rope courses, and more.
Drama therapy or psychodrama – Using drama to help one learn to express oneself or interact with peers. For example, a patient can take something that happened to them in their life and turn it into a play. When acted out, the individual can act out the memory in real-time, but in a safe space. If negative emotions arise, they understand that they can act them out and perhaps feel some relief and heal triggers. The facilitator can offer feedback and even redirect the play toward more effective outcomes if necessary.
Animal Assisted Therapy – Animals like horses, dogs, or cats are used to help individuals learn compassion, responsibility, and companionship. This type of therapy is really wonderful for those who have a tough time relating to others. It softens them up some and lets them trust more.
Art Therapy – Common approaches include painting, sculpting, and woodworking
Music Therapy – Playing instruments, singing, etc.
Poetry Therapy – Using poetry to help express oneself and use creativity.
Yoga – Practicing yoga to strengthen the mind and body.
Volunteer Work – Volunteering in the community can help individuals feel more fulfilled and offer care and compassion to those in need.
Experiential Therapy Benefits For Addiction Treatment
When one engages in an experiential therapy program, they tend to be less guarded and more open then if they were doing traditional talk therapy. For example, taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet, such as a dog, can help one get more in touch with their feelings or soft side – and be alright with this.
It’s not uncommon for those struggling with addiction to have erected a wall around their heart and be guarded. However, caring for a pet consistently has been known to help dissolve that wall and give them more of a sense of purpose and meaning. This is beneficial because they’re more apt to experience personal and emotional growth as a byproduct of the therapy.
Other benefits of experiential therapy include:
- Safe exploration of feelings/emotions
- Decreasing the intensity or healing emotional triggers
- Process negative emotions
- Get in touch with your creative side
- Help boost levels of good, clean fun
- Learn new skills or hobbies
Experiential therapy interventions are quite beneficial as an add-on to traditional addiction recovery treatment. They offer a broad range of interventions that men and women tend to enjoy and get a lot out of recovery-wise. Treatment centers that offer experiential therapies tend to pull more interest from those interested in getting free from addiction. The wide variety of treatment modalities helps them feel like they have more choices and freedom than simply talk therapy or support groups.
If you’re struggling with an addiction and are ready to take your next step toward recovery, know that there are professionals who are more than willing to assist you in getting free. Addition treatment is effective and can help you experience a better life. Reach out for help today.