Experiential Therapy In Addiction Recovery
Key Points in This Article
- What is experiential therapy?
- How is experiential therapy used in addiction treatment?
- Experiential therapy creates a shift in perception.
- Experiential therapy provides a safe place for psychotherapy.
- Experiential therapy connects the body and the mind.
- Experiential therapy allows access to repressed emotions.
- How does experiential therapy support evidence-based addiction treatment?
Here at Elevate’s Northern California facilities (Santa Cruz, CA. and Placerville, CA.) and our South Lake Tahoe facility we do not believe that addiction is the result of a weak character, but rather evidence of deeper physical, emotional and spiritual dilemmas. To address these underlying issues, we don’t just simply treat the symptoms of addiction. Instead, alongside evidence-based practices, we treat the whole person and teach each person how to create a meaningful life without substances.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ELEVATE’S APPROACH
Or you can call and speak to one of our addiction counselors
While much addiction treatment takes place in a clinical environment, some programs offer clients the opportunity to complete some of their treatment while participating in other activities.
Experiential treatment, as this approach is called, is used to support necessary changes in a client’s thinking that is thought to help them to experience a more lasting recovery. While not used as a primary treatment approach, experiential therapy is used across many rehab programs to supplement the efforts of evidence-based practices such as talk therapy.
What is experiential therapy?
Experiential therapy is psychotherapy that occurs in the midst of physical, hands-on activities.
Some of the activities utilized in this form of treatment include the following:
- Horseback riding
- Animal-Assisted Therapy
- Martial arts
- Role Playing
- Wilderness Adventures
- And more
Experiential therapy’s focus on participatory experiences is used in the treatment of a wide range of disorders and issues, including eating disorders, anger management, trauma treatment, and substance use disorder.
This approach, in order to qualify as experiential therapy, must take place with the support of a licensed therapist. This professional uses the chosen activity to explore the client’s thoughts and feelings and to make connections that can help the participant move forward in their recovery. Most often used together with more traditional forms of therapy, this approach involves conversation alongside action and even fun.
How is experiential therapy used in addiction treatment?
When used specifically to address addiction, experiential therapy leverages the power of actions and fun to uncover repressed emotions, improve self-awareness, and give the client tools to combat their addiction. Here are some of the most important ways in which experiential therapy is used in addiction treatment.
Experiential therapy creates a shift in perception.
Changing one’s thoughts and perceptions is often important in achieving a successful recovery, and is one of the tenets of the 12-step programs. However, this shift is sometimes difficult to achieve through conversation alone. Experiential therapy is often used to provide a way for individuals to experience a change in their perception of the world, themselves, and their addiction by changing the environment and the activities to which they are accustomed.
Experiential therapy provides a safe place for psychotherapy.
Not every client is able or willing to open up in a traditional talk therapy session. Many individuals do better when participating in an activity that encourages camaraderies, relaxation, and fun. These safe spaces can help clients to let their guards down and have deeper, more productive conversations with their therapist.
Experiential therapy connects the body and the mind.
Holistic addiction treatment emphasizes the importance of healing the mind, body, and spirit of the addict. Many evidence-based practices focus solely on the mental or emotional aspect of healing. Experiential therapy can support the integration of both physical and mental wellness by getting the client involved in activities that require their physical participation. By addressing psychotherapeutic goals through physical activity, experiential therapy can help the client heal in a more well-rounded way.
Experiential therapy allows access to repressed emotions.
Sometimes, clients are unable to recognize or access their emotions, particularly if they are dealing with trauma or other underlying issues. Drugs can also inhibit an individual’s ability to experience feelings. The activities utilized in experiential therapy can help unlock these hidden feelings and thoughts, making psychotherapy more fruitful.
How does experiential therapy support evidence-based addiction treatment?
Experiential therapy does not occur on its own. Instead, this holistic treatment approach is used alongside traditional, evidence-based practices to enhance an individual’s healing.
Experiential therapy can support these traditional practices in the following ways:
- Release repressed feelings for discussion
- Assist clients in relaxing during therapy
- Improve social connections and self-awareness
- Provide a physical element to healing
- Recover lost memories or traumas
- Provide a more enjoyable environment for therapy
- Overcome clients’ excuses for continuing addiction
As an immersive way to encourage fruitful psychotherapy, experiential therapy utilizes the whole person as a way to achieve deeper healing. In this way, it can make traditional talk therapy more productive and address elements of healing that a talk therapy approach cannot.
While there is not a lot of research to support the effectiveness of this approach, there is some research to support certain types of experiential therapy, such as music therapy and art therapy. In addition, the anecdotal evidence from treatment centers and clients indicates that at least for some individuals, this approach to rehab delivers improved success over evidence-based practices alone.
LEARN ABOUT THE ELEVATE ADDICTION SERVICES PROGRAMS
If you’re having trouble getting your child or a loved one into rehab, call Elevate Addiction Services.
Detox specialists will know how to identify and alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms.
Our inpatient program helps each client recover at their own pace and advance their physical and mental health.
We created our outpatient program by curating the most crucial aspects of our residential program.
Telehealth is a virtual program where individuals communicate with licensed health counselors.
Each client leaves Elevate with a customized post-treatment plan, also known as a relapse prevention plan.
This page does not provide medical advice
Written by Elevate Addiction Services | © 2022 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved