Counselor and patient discuss advantages of experiential therapy.Experiential therapy has been used for decades in addiction treatment. In fact, this type of therapy was first used in a healthcare setting in the Victorian era. Experiential therapies can help people create change in their own lives through self-awareness of problems preventing those changes. The person being treated can then take the right steps to make the changes they need.

What is Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapy uses activities to help people understand themselves better. The activities trigger emotional and behavioral responses. Patients witness their own responses and develop this understanding.

Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol do so because of uncomfortable or distressing feelings, emotions and behaviors. These are the underlying causes of their addiction, rooted in memories, mental illnesses like depression, or past trauma. Patients stifle other feelings because they are embarrassing, shameful or frightening.

Talk therapy challenges patients to work through many of their struggles. Some challenging feelings and issues are confusing to people trying to recover from substance abuse. These problems become more clear when experienced during activities.

Types of Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapies include a wide variety of activities. The common thread between these methods is that they all immerse the person in actions that spark recognition of their own reactions, responses, and emotions. Some therapy activities recreate past events or situations. Others are creative pursuits like art or music that help patients better express themselves.

Beaches Recovery in Jacksonville, Florida provides a range of experiential therapies. These include:

The best thing about engaging in experiential therapies is that you get to enjoy a fun activity while learning about yourself and your addiction. You also gain potential lifetime hobbies to engage in after rehab. Through these activities in your community, you can connect with others who share a healthy mindset while continuing to help yourself and grow in sobriety.

Facts about Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment

As stated before, U.S. therapists have used experiential therapies for over a century.
Other facts of experiential therapy revealed by a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded study include:

  • 36.8 percent of addiction treatment centers use art as a therapeutic method.
  • 14.7 percent of addiction rehabs use music therapy.
  • 11.7 percent of rehabs use both art and music in their treatment programs.
  • When used in combination with the 12 Steps, experiential therapies provide better results than 12 Steps alone.
  • Art therapy has been used since the 1950s
  • Art helps patients overcome denial, engage in treatment, communicate better and let go of shame while motivating change.
  • Music therapy has been used since the 1970s.
  • Music therapy helps patients communicate, participate more in treatment and engage emotions, motivations, and barriers to recovery.

Another study conducted by Oslo University in Oslo, Norway indicates that equine therapy helps young adults remain in treatment longer. With equine therapy participation, over 56 percent of patients complete their rehab program, according to this research. That compares to only 14 percent who complete programs without equine therapy. Equine therapy patients in this study also stayed in treatment twice as long as patients not experiencing equine therapy.

If you or someone you love are ready to end addiction and want to include experiential therapy in your treatment plan, Beaches Recovery has the programs for you. With nine experiential therapies including art, music and equine, you can gain lasting recovery at Beaches. Call Beaches Recovery now at 866.605.0532 for more information and to start a better life in recovery today.