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What Is Experiential Therapy?

what is experiential therapy

For many seeking addiction treatment, the idea of traditional therapy (or what they imagine when they think of therapy) is unappealing. This can also be the hurdle that keeps them from seeking the treatment they so desperately need for a substance use disorder. But imagine if you could work through your addiction, learn practical skills to deal with triggers, and take part in activities you enjoy all as part of your therapeutic experience? This is what experiential therapy is all about. It’s an opportunity to take advantage of a change in scenery and a change in how therapy is delivered. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of experiential therapy is that it is unique to each person. At Palo Verde Wellness, the treatment team is able to customize each approach so that the individual gets a treatment plan that works best for them. Because of Palo Verde Wellness’ unique location in the hills of Palm Springs, California, we offer both adventure therapy and wilderness therapy as part of our experiential therapy program. Contact us at 760-209-6683 to learn more.

What Is Experiential Therapy and How Does it Work?

Experiential therapy is a type of therapy that utilizes active expression in treatment, healing, and recovery to help an individual explore past events and traumas, process big emotions, and see things from a new perspective through activities and experiences. It helps resolve issues from the past that still affect the present and addresses buried emotions as well. Experiential therapy can be an especially helpful tool for people who are not comfortable talking about their feelings in a more traditional therapy session. When they are outside doing something they enjoy – or trying something new – they tend to be in a more comfortable environment that allows them to deal with trauma or emotions more effectively. Experiential therapy does not follow a set formula so that it can be fully personalized to the individual. In fact, no two experiential therapy experiences are the same, nor should they be. A clinical team will work with the individual to craft a treatment plan that works best for them and that they will get the most out of. Because of Palo Verde Wellness’ proximity to the mountains and hiking trails, we offer outdoor adventure and wilderness therapy experiences. Experiential therapies can also include:

  • Equine therapy through horseback riding and interacting with the animals
  • Role-playing to act out and work through a trauma or conflict
  • Music therapy through playing, listening, or appreciating music as a way to manage the symptoms of addiction
  • Art therapy through hands-on activities like painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and more

Experiential therapy can also be combined with more traditional approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

What to Expect From Experiential Therapy

Because of Palo Verde Wellness’ holistic approach to therapy overall, we see the value of utilizing experiential therapy to complement other therapeutic approaches. This allows for the most unique and customized treatment. From getting outside and taking advantage of nature to role-playing real-life scenarios, experiential therapy offers an alternative to therapies that may not make everyone feel comfortable sharing what they are going through. In this type of therapy experience, you are able to experience the feelings you are having trouble communicating. This allows a very interactive way to work through the feelings other than sitting in a chair and talking about them with a therapist. Experiential therapy is not all fun and games, there is work to be done, and participants will be challenged, just in a different way. Participants take part in activities that focus on the following:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Trust building
  • Building interpersonal skills
  • Working on self-image and self-esteem
  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Reducing impulsivity

Discover Experiential Therapy at Palo Verde Wellness

Experiential therapy provides a one-of-a-kind treatment for addiction. Being able to get away from your everyday life and take part in an experience you cannot get in your everyday environment – and from trained professionals that have been through a similar experience – can be highly beneficial. This unique approach is unlike traditional therapies. You will have the chance to be outside in nature while you work through hurdles to your sobriety as opposed to sitting inside in a therapist’s office all day talking about your feelings. Ideally, a well-rounded treatment experience will include a balance of both experiential and more traditional therapies. Palo Verde Wellness prides itself on this kind of holistic approach that tends to focus on thoughts and feelings, whereas experiential therapies give you the chance to take part in an activity physically. Talk with the Palo Verde Wellness team today by calling us at 760-209-6683 or filling out our online form to learn more.