Experiential therapy is a therapeutic strategy that utilizes expressive devices and exercises, for example, pretending or acting, props, expressions, and artworks, music, animal interaction, guided symbolism, or different types of recreation to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships. Our experiential clients center around the exercises and, through the experience, start to recognize feelings related to progress, frustration, obligation, and confidence. Under the direction of a trained experiential therapist, our experiential clients can start to release and investigate negative sentiments of resentment, hurt, or shame as they identify with past encounters that may have been blocked or still hang upon their shoulders.
When it is used?
Experiential therapy is widely used in the treatment of substance abuse, trauma disorders, behavior disorders, eating disorders, anger management, recovery from grief and loss, as well as different types of physical and behavioral addictions and compulsive behavior (e.g. gambling). Experiential therapy is also widely approved for those who want relief from unpleasant, unfortunate, and/or otherwise bad feelings from prior struggles, to change how being involved with something can help guide your happier life, and live to the fullest potential. Experiential therapy is offered at Harm Reduction Center as part of our various recovery, treatment, and rehabilitation programs, in conjunction with different styles of traditional therapies, you can change your life for the better.
What to expect?
Experiential therapy isn’t necessarily one specific form of treatment, you may find you enjoy various types of experiential therapies, as well as talk therapy. That is what makes Harm Reduction Center so unique. By participating in these experiential therapies, with guidance from a HARC therapist, you are able to gain a deeper knowledge of your own emotional processing, creativity, inner thoughts, and intercommunication with others. Once you can get comfortable in a particular experience or activity, you can then learn to reflect on your current state, experiences, and possible hang-ups to better make your own choices and decisions as you move through life and free yourself to become a better you. Your HARC therapist will focus on your awareness and perceptions of what you are experiencing through these interventions, and help you explore the meaning of your emotions. Deeper conversations can come forth and may take place during the activity or in a private counseling session with your therapist.
How it works?
A fundamental premise of experiential therapy is that one’s perception determines one’s behavior. By re-experiencing and releasing repressed negative emotions from the past, the client is better able to experience positive feelings such as love, forgiveness, and calm in the present, changing their perception of reality. In practice, experiential therapy can take a variety of forms and is client-centered—in that the client’s preferences for certain interventions should be honored. For instance, one client may be more attracted to animal-assisted therapy, while another is more interested in sculpture or drama as a form of expression. (Psychology Today)
Proven Long-Term Success with Recreation Therapy Activities
Why these can be life-long resources
Before entering drug and/or alcohol detox or rehabilitation, the lives of most patients mostly revolved around substance use. When patients find themselves without anything to do during early stages of recovery, it can leave a feeling of a void, boredom, and even depression. Coming to terms with a sober lifestyle is difficult for most without the access to an array of fulfilling activities to fill free time.
While there are many new ways that recreational therapy activities for substance abuse are taking form, there are a few that we have seen can help you achieve long-term success:
- Creating and Maintaining healthy habits. Most people with substance abuse problems will need some help with creating the routines and habits that nourish our body, mind, and soul. There are many ways to do this such as simply doing things that get you outside like going on walks, or yoga.
- Involving yourself in something productive. Being stuck inside binge-watching TV for hours isn’t a productive way to stay sober. Recreational activities, new hobbies, and getting involved with your community or a community that caters to your interests is what will help keep you sober.
- Nurturing healthy friendships. With all the new activities to get involved with in your sober life, there is an opportunity to meet new people and create a strong circle of friends who may be going through the same challenges you are. Nurturing new friendships are important for having a positive companionship when tempted to turn to old ways and harmful behavior.