Experiential Therapy For Addiction and Why It Works

Experiential therapy, Benefits of Experiential Therapy, Experiential Therapy for Addiction in Texas

Experiences help to change the way we see the world. We learn from them. In drug and alcohol addiction treatment, experiential therapy aims to create positive change through engaging, hands-on experiences. This type of therapy is much different from the individual counseling sessions you will have with your therapist and much different from the educational programs you’ll work through in group therapy.

What Is Experiential Therapy for Addiction?

Experiential therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves hands-on activities. During the session, some sort of interaction occurs that helps encourage a person to open up about their past or to express themselves meaningfully. Many people struggle with expressing their past pain or deep emotions with good reason. If you cannot do so easily, you may find experiential therapy to be highly effective.

A method of treatment started by philosopher and psychologist Eugene Gendlin, experiential therapy is nontraditional, but it can be helpful for those facing drug and alcohol addiction, mental health challenges, trauma, and much more.

What Are Some Examples of Experiential Therapy for Addiction?

Experiential therapy is a very wide area of treatment. Some examples include:

  • Animal care, such as equine therapy
  • Hiking therapy
  • Role-playing therapy
  • Art therapy, such as with painting or pottery
  • Adventure programs
  • Sports programs

Take for example, equine therapy. This therapy style involves learning about and caring for a horse. During the process of caring for the animal, you will learn quite a bit about yourself, especially since that animal becomes reliant on you. Horses are quite unique in that they are able to reflect back the emotions a person feels, giving you a way to open up.

As you open up, you may be more willing to work on those deeper emotions. Trust is built. You feel valued. You’re doing something that is interesting or important to you. You’re fully engaged in the process, and that helps to bring down some of the walls you’ve built to protect yourself. 

With the help of your therapist, you’ll explore your thoughts and feelings during experiential therapy. This gives you an opportunity to safely move through those feelings without the risk of painful memories causing additional trauma.

What Are the Benefits of Experiential Therapy?

How can experiential therapy help with addiction? For some people, it is the ideal way to express themselves. Benefits include:

  • Improved self-awareness: Shutting down in addiction is common, but experiential therapy can help you to become more aware of what’s occurring in your mind, what your needs are, and what your emotions are telling you.
  • Resolution of past pain: At The Ranch at Dove Tree, we often employ psychodrama, a process that re-enacts a conflict from the past to help resolve past pain. This, alongside exposure therapy, allows a person to work through their emotions.
  • Healthy relationships: Through experiential therapy, you learn how to build better, stronger relationships because you become more confident in yourself. Experiential therapy can help you be more trusting and to help others trust you.

The inclusion of experiential therapy in your treatment plan for addiction is often a very good thing. What’s more, you never have to engage in activities that you do not like or are not interested in. Even so, we encourage you to give something new a try. Find out what you enjoy by trying out a new experience, whether in the fitness and outdoor realm or in the realm of art and music.

Explore the Options in Experiential Therapy for Addiction in Texas

At The Ranch at Dove Tree, our comprehensive addiction treatment program offers a variety of opportunities for experiential therapy. It is a part of our inpatient residential treatment, an opportunity for you to embrace recovery with the help of skilled professionals in a supportive environment. If you are struggling, contact us now to learn more about the therapy options we can offer.