Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment - Arise Treatment Center

When you imagine addiction therapy, you probably picture sitting in an office with a therapist and a small group of your peers. However, not all therapies operate this way. Many therapies are more hands-on and immersive. Experiential therapies are healing activities that take place in nontraditional settings, such as in nature or at the gym.

Arise Treatment Center uses experiential therapy to help you process feelings, thoughts, and emotions through hands-on activities like wilderness therapy or art therapy. It also includes more passive therapies, such as EMDR or neurofeedback and biofeedback. This dynamic approach can improve your mental health and help you process the root causes of your substance abuse.

What is Experiential Therapy?

Many people who struggle with mental health and addiction feel uneasy talking about their feelings and situation in a traditional therapy setting. But when you’re focused on a specific activity rather than therapy itself, you become less guarded and are able to open up more authentically. Experiential therapy takes the pressure off of talk therapy and can provide you with a healthy coping outlet to process trauma, cope with stress, and more.

Since repressed or buried emotions can keep you trapped in your addiction, it’s important to uncover and overcome these feelings so you can better understand your addiction, what you need to do to stay sober, and achieve long-term recovery. This action-oriented approach is designed to promote self-awareness and self-esteem by encouraging you to accept and overcome buried emotions or traumatic experiences from the past.

Experiential Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment

During an experiential therapy session, your therapist will guide you through exercises or activities that are custom-tailored to meet your needs. Common experiential therapies include:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – While visualizing a traumatic event, your therapist guides you through a series of specific eye movements that aim to reduce the negative feelings and distress that result from trauma.
  • Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) – Groom, feed, walk, and spend time with horses. Interacting with a horse can reveal information about your mental and emotional state as well as help you improve your communication skills and self-worth.
  • Art, music, and dance therapies – Express your emotions in a creative way through art, music, or dance.
  • Neurofeedback/biofeedback – Therapies that use specialized instruments to measure activity in the brain utilize brain-wave frequencies to reduce anxiety, treat PTSD, and reduce drug-seeking tendencies.
  • Adventure therapy or wilderness therapy – Spending time in the wilderness or participating in physical outdoor activities like hiking, camping, canoeing, and rock-climbing can help reduce depression and anxiety while also improving self-esteem.
  • Gestalt therapy – A psychotherapy that aims to help you develop new perspectives and create positive changes in your life. A popular form of gestalt therapy used in addiction treatment is the “empty chair technique” where you visualize talking to a certain person (the empty chair) to express buried emotions and promote healing.

Benefits of Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Trauma and the emotional distress that comes with it isn’t always easy to talk about with a therapist, much less a small group of your peers. Experiential therapies encourage you to process your trauma and cope with painful emotions in a healthy way outside of the traditional addiction treatment setting.

Aside from trauma, experiential therapy can also be used to treat a range of co-occurring mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

By effectively treating these conditions, your likelihood of relapse is reduced.

Other benefits of experiential therapy include:

  • Allows your therapist to observe you in your natural environment, enabling him or her to better match treatment services to your specific needs
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Improves self-awareness
  • Process emotions in a nonverbal manner
  • Increase your ability to control your impulses and avoid addictive behaviors

Experiential therapies are also extremely versatile and adaptable, so they are suitable for all learning styles.

Holistically-Tailored Addiction Recovery at Arise Treatment Center

Our holistic approach at Arise Treatment Center combines traditional, evidence-based techniques with experiential and complementary therapies to deliver whole-person healing to each patient. We treat both your addiction and any underlying mental health conditions so you are more likely to stay sober after treatment.

Asking for help can be scary, but it’s the first step toward a better life. Don’t wait any longer for the help you deserve–call now to speak with an admissions specialist.