Evidence-based addiction treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These approaches work well for individuals who have an easy time putting their vulnerabilities into words. Others need help breaking through the protective wall that they’ve erected over the years. Experiential therapy is one of the tools therapists use in these situations.
Examples of Experiential Therapy
As the name implies, this type of treatment allows you to experience something. For some, it’s a new activity such as a sport. For others, a team-building exercise propels them out of their comfort zones. Examples of these therapeutic interventions might include:
- Recreation therapy in the form of aquatic sports, kayaking, biking, and hiking
- Adventure opportunities such as high and low ropes courses that incorporate a team aspect
- Healthy living exploration via nutritional counseling, guided fitness therapy, and introduction to Pilates
- Meditation and introspection with the help of yoga
- Role-playing in group therapy as a means of acting out past trauma in psychodrama
It’s important to realize that experiential therapy components aren’t stand-alone modalities. Frequently, therapists combine multiple types—depending on a program participant’s preferences—to achieve breakthroughs. Moreover, these interventions combine with the previously mentioned talk therapy approaches to allow for reflection.
What Makes Experiential Therapy Work?
The average program participant seeks out drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs during a low point in their lives. Taking this courageous step may follow a difficult conversation with a loved one or the loss of a job. Some individuals face depression, shame, guilt, anger, grief, and fear. Typically, these emotions amplify underlying causes of addiction.
But far too often, program participants can’t put all of their thoughts and feelings into words. Those who’ve spent years repressing memories and emotions now find that they can’t communicate those feeling with others. Because many already tried traditional counseling, they shut down as soon as they face the office and couch. For these clients, mixing in a non-traditional therapy approach makes the most sense.
Someone who enjoys hiking is more likely to chat with a therapist while doing so. In the process, he or she reveals significant bits and pieces of past traumas that he or she can now face. This progress would likely be impossible—or at least delayed—in a traditional setting. Because many people struggling with substance abuse also suffer from isolation, this therapy approach offers additional benefits.
For example, consider the opportunity for personal growth you might enjoy if you’ve had a difficult time interacting with others. By sharing enjoyable experiences as a group, you become part of a joined activity. Build on this feeling of belonging to something bigger within a group therapy setting or during family therapy.
Finding a Program Framework that Incorporates Experiential Opportunities
Typically, inpatient rehab is the best option for getting the most out of these treatment offers. When you live at the facility, a therapist can help you incorporate these activities into your daily schedule. Other treatment settings, most notably an intensive outpatient program, may not be as suitable because of idle time in early recovery. If you can’t live on campus, consider enrolling in a partial hospitalization program instead.
If you’re unsure which setting is right for you, discuss your thoughts with the caring therapists at Driftwood Recovery. You don’t have to sacrifice another day of your life to an addiction. In fact, when you reach out for help today, you can get started on the road to recovery right away. Dial 866-426-4694 now for immediate help!