What is Experiential Therapy?
Experiential therapies are participation oriented and personally engaging activities that help those recovering from addictions gain a better understanding of themselves by experiencing and observing how they respond – both emotionally and behaviorally – through their involvement in an engaging or purposeful activity.
For many people facing a recovery, there could be emotions and behaviors underlying their addiction that are hard for the person to access. Some experiences may be hidden deep in past memory or in the subconscious, avoiding analysis because they can’t be verbalized. Others may lie just beneath the emotional surface struggling to be expressed due to embarrassment, shame, or fear.
Diamond Tree Recovery can enhance its treatment program helping patients deal with these challenging issues using experiential therapies designed to draw out and process repressed memories or inhibited emotional issues that may be contributing to the person’s addiction without the person’s knowing it. Experiential therapy helps those who are having difficulty expressing the feelings behind their addictive behaviors.
We use nontraditional treatment settings, experiential therapies, to help our patients work through their hidden feelings and emotions.
— Jordan Burningham, Wellness Director
Some patients are uncomfortable talking to any therapist in a traditional office setting. Experiential therapies help put patients in environments where they feel more comfortable, sometimes outdoors, other times in a music studio.
Diamond Tree Recovery experiential therapies include:
- Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
- Rock climbing
- Ropes courses
- Music therapy
- Wilderness therapy
- Recreation therapy
- Adventure therapy
It is through experiential therapy that our patients develop a stronger sense of self, coming to terms with deep emotions and past traumas. Experiential therapy helps patients learn how to take-on these issues without turning to drugs or trying to escape.
During experiential sessions, therapists guide their patient through multiple treatment exercises, designed specific to the patient’s treatment needs.
— Alexandrah Keenan, Clinical Director
Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Activities like rock-climbing and hiking are physically demanding and help simulate the real-world stress our patients are trying to overcome. These types of activities can teach patients how to cope with the stressors they experience everyday such as cravings and addiction triggers.
Patients are often less guarded during experiential therapy, creating an environment for more mental healing, as well as more accurate patient evaluations by their therapists.
At Diamond Tree Recovery, we use various forms of experiential therapy in treating many disorders that underly the addiction. By treating these disorders in conjunction with addiction we can help decrease mental health stress and triggers, thereby reducing the likelihood of relapse.