Talk therapy gets a lot of attention in addiction recovery because it plays a vital role in the process. It helps people discover and better understand the feelings that drive them to abuse drugs or alcohol. Even so, talk therapy isn’t the only way to help someone recognize and cope with those feelings. Experiential therapy, part of our addiction treatment therapies, uses a hands-on approach to help a person access and channel those feelings.
What Does Experiential Therapy Involve?
Experiential therapy isn’t a single activity. Different treatment centers offer different options based on the skills of their staff and the size of their grounds. A small center or one in a city might focus on writing or music because they use less space. A large center in a more rural area might offer wilderness therapy.
A few of the more common experiential therapy options include:
- Art therapy program
- Drama therapy
- Play therapy
- Music therapy
- Poetry therapy
- Wilderness therapy
How Does Experiential Therapy Work?
Many people use drugs or alcohol to numb painful feelings or memories. As they work through recovery, those painful feelings surface. Talk therapy puts a lot of focus directly on the person. That combination of intense focus and painful emotions makes some people withdraw.
Activities give people something else to focus on. Taking the focus off of themselves relieves some of the pressure. Talking about something painful is easier if another person isn’t watching and waiting.
Mastering the activity also stands in for other experiences. If a person doesn’t do an activity well enough, it allows them to talk about feelings of failure or anger. Doing it well will enable them to talk about struggling to accept success.
It’s important to understand that our experiential healing center doesn’t replace talk therapies. The center’s job is to create more chances for people to get at their feelings. The hope is that clients will bring those breakthroughs into individual or group therapy. The more emotional work they do during rehab, the better their chances of staying clean long-term.
Benefits of Experiential Therapy
This hands-on approach offers several benefits. The most important short-term benefit is giving people other paths to reach their feelings. Until a person can come to grips with those feelings, they’re much more likely to relapse. You can’t come to grips with something you can’t stand to talk about.
Hands-on therapies also teach people how to use their free time in non-destructive ways. A hobby, such as painting, gives people better ways to fill the hours they used to spend on drugs or alcohol. Developing a hobby isn’t the point of the therapy, but it’s often a happy byproduct.
Some of the therapies also offer health and fitness benefits.
Santé Center for Healing
The Santé Center for Healing, located in Argyle, TX, has helped people recover from addictions for over 20 years. We base our approach on the time-tested 12-step program model but embrace experiential therapy. Some of our therapeutic approaches include:
- Ropes courses (not available for TL & IOP)
- EMDR Therapy
- Mirror imaging
Santé provides individual and group therapy, educational courses, and non-denominational spirituality groups. Our residential treatment programs last from 45 days to over 100 days. We also offer intensive outpatient treatment programs and transitional living programs.
Our healing center places special importance on aftercare planning and relapse prevention. We want our clients to have the best possible chance of a successful, lifelong recovery.