Talk therapy is one of the most common treatments for people dealing with mental health issues and it’s highly effective, but it’s not the only option. More and more treatment centers recognize the value of other forms of therapy, including more holistic therapies like experiential therapy to help clients suffering from mental health conditions and eating disorders.
Experiential therapy includes various therapeutic techniques rather than a type of psychotherapy. Clients take part in activities that help them gain the skills they need to solve problems and learn new behaviors. Experiential therapy is typically part of a comprehensive therapeutic approach that includes talk therapy, mindfulness therapy, and others.
Experiential therapy can be very beneficial for clients who have a difficult time with talk therapy. Some people have trouble verbalizing problematic issues because they’re so traumatized by them. Others become so agitated or angry when thinking about the problem that sessions can’t continue. It’s vital that these clients have appropriate ways to express their feelings when talking is too overwhelming.
Experiential Therapy Components
How It Helps
It’s not uncommon for people with various mental health issues to have unresolved pain from their past, often buried on some subconscious level. Due to the negative events in their past, they find it hard to express their feelings or have healthy relationships. They often lack a sense of self-awareness and don’t feel validated enough to express their real emotions or desires. Continuing to bury painful feelings can lead to unhealthy outcomes. Only when clients acknowledge their emotions – the good and the bad – can they move forward with healing.
When clients engage in experiential therapy activities, our therapists observe them. To the client it doesn’t feel like a therapy session, but it gives our therapists insight into each client’s psyche. Everything from a client’s facial expressions to what they say can provide therapists with a greater understanding of their mental state. When participating in an activity, clients are usually more comfortable and relaxed, and their expressions and reactions are more likely to reveal their true feelings.
At Magnolia Creek, we offer various types of experiential therapy activities. Our skilled counselors tailor the activities to best fit each client’s preferences and personality. Some of our activity therapies include:
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Wilderness therapy
- Art therapy
- Sand-tray therapy
- Music therapy
- Adventure therapy
Treatment aims to teach clients how to take a proactive approach to dealing with stressful situations and negative emotions from past events. They learn that how they respond to challenges can make a considerable difference in their lives. If their past is full of poor choices, then they’ll learn better ways to communicate with others as well as how to better understand themselves.
In time, they’ll see that they control their actions. No matter what emotions they feel, their emotions don’t have to overwhelm them. This contributes to greater self-awareness, better coping skills, and increased confidence.