This form of therapy is based on the premise that individuals may sometimes better understand themselves by experiencing and watching their emotional and behavioral responses while engaged in an engaging or purposeful activity. Experiential therapy is designed to aid individuals in recovery in developing a stronger sense of self by confronting hidden emotions and prior traumas.
They are hands-on, engaging activities that help recovering addicts in processing and coping with previous trauma. Some recovering addicts are hesitant to go through their issues in a typical therapeutic environment. Experiential therapy brings addiction treatment into the art studio, the great outdoors, and other settings.
A recovered addict can learn how to deal with these difficulties without resorting to drugs as an escape through experiential therapy.
What Does ET Involve?
Experiential therapy is not just a single approach. Depending on the expertise of their employees and the size of their grounds, different treatment institutions provide other possibilities. Because they take up less space, a small center or one in a city may focus on literature or music. A big center in a more remote setting may provide wilderness treatment.
Among the most frequent forms of experiential therapy are:
- Art therapy program
- Equine assisted therapy
- Music therapy program
- Yoga therapy program
How Does it Work?
After releasing destructive emotions via various activities, a person feels pleasant feelings such as love and forgiveness. Their view of reality alters as a result of the therapy. Some people may favor animal therapy, while others may prefer music or art therapy. A therapist is still involved, but the exercise encourages people to speak openly and honestly about their feelings.
This is because the emphasis is not exclusively on “dealing with the issue.” It makes it simpler to cope with the issue’s sentiments safely, less directly. It is especially beneficial in treating alcohol and drug addiction because it can access the emotional and spiritual components of rehabilitation. ET permits individuals to experience their feelings without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
Experiential Therapy will not “treat” alcoholism or drug addiction on its own, but it is another coping skill to employ while attempting to manage these conditions.
This hands-on approach has various advantages. The essential short-term benefit is providing people with additional ways to express their emotions. People are considerably more prone to relapse if they can’t deal with their feelings. You can’t deal with something you can’t bring yourself to talk about.
Hands-on treatments also teach people how to use their leisure time in non-harmful ways. A pastime, such as painting, allows people to spend hours on drugs or alcohol more productively. Developing a recreation isn’t the goal of treatment, but it’s often a pleasant side effect.
Some of the therapies are also beneficial to one’s health and fitness. Yoga, in particular, is restorative to increasing strength and flexibility.
The Different Modalities
Experiential treatment commonly employs the following techniques:
Art therapy enables recovering addicts to express themselves via art or music. Patients can work through distressing and unpleasant emotions in a healthy way by making art.
Outdoor activities like hiking, camping, bicycling, rock climbing, and white-water rafting are included in this treatment. While working in a group environment, adventure therapy helps recovering addicts build personal responsibility, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a treatment in which patients envision a traumatic experience while being guided through precise eye movements by a therapist. EMDR has been proven to be beneficial in helping individuals in recovery in reducing negative emotions and distressing feelings that might contribute to substance addiction.
The use of horses in therapeutic rehabilitation activities is referred to as equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP). Throughout the session, patients may groom, feed, harness, and walk them.
The many ways in which recovering addicts engage with horses might provide information about their emotional and mental health. EAP can assist recovering addicts in processing unpleasant feelings or experiences that they may not have recognized or addressed otherwise.