Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy Vs. Talk Therapy

Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is a different approach to therapy than traditional talk therapy. This approach involves activities and actions in conjunction with talking. The experiences encourage patients to pinpoint and deal with their issues through activities. Experiential therapy in addition to talk therapy can increase confidence and manage emotions. Some activities include animal-assisted therapy, painting, rock climbing, guided imagery, and role playing.

How Does Experiential Therapy Work?

The therapist is able to engage with the patient in a situation where the patient is not focused on the actual therapy. It offers a sort of distraction. Some patients feel pressured and clam up when the spotlight is on them. Experiential therapy shifts the focus from the problems to the activity at hand. This creates the opportunity to uncover subconscious thoughts and feelings that might not be brought up otherwise. The patient maneuvers through specified goals and activities, which improves self-esteem and confidence as they complete these goals. Furthermore, activity helps patients identify obstacles and underlying issues, and creates self awareness.

In patients with behavioral problems, experiential therapy helps them see the impact their decisions have on themselves and on other people/things. The therapist and patient can examine their reactions when faced with challenging situations. The therapist gains insight by watching the patient in ‘real world’ situations due to the patient being less ‘on guard’. Moreover, for individuals who seek therapy for substance abuse or addiction, experiential therapy can help discover new leisure activities. This is a key part of the recovery process for this type of patient.

Types of Experiential Therapy

There are several types of experiential therapies. A few are as follows:

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: EAP is a type of animal-assisted therapy that utilizes horses by having the patient engage/care for the animal. Patients groom, lead, maintain and feed the horse for the purpose of helping the them identify and work through issues. Horses are known to be therapeutic animals. Physicians recommend this type of treatment for addiction recovery and behavior disorders.

Adventure Therapy: This type of therapy involves outdoorsy adventures. Camping, white water rafting, hiking, or an obstacle course are all examples. This interactive method works well for troubled youths by developing their problem solving skills, socialization, and teamwork skills.

Art/Music Therapy: This method allows individuals to express themselves through an artistic medium. The creative process can reduce stress, improve self esteem, and help express and manage emotions. Since some patients have a hard time expressing themselves verbally, art/music therapy can help with communication.

Play Therapy: Most commonly used with children, play therapy is also a good form of therapy for individuals who have trouble with verbal expression. Adults and families can also benefit from this type of therapy. Therapists observe how the child interacts with their toys, which can help understand the motives behind troublesome behavior.

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