Experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach based primarily on the belief that experiencing a different kind of activity is the best way to heal. This method encourages patients to fully experience their thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that they can develop different skills that will help them be more productive in their daily lives. It is expected that these essential coping skills would be sufficient and effective so that the patient will be able to make a more complete recovery.
There are many kinds of therapeutic interventions under experiential therapy. Some of the more common types involve patients participating in different activities not normally associated with conventional treatment such as music therapy, art therapy, play therapy, and outdoor therapy, which is steadily rising in popularity because of its many features:
This kind of therapy involves participation in various outdoor activities such as white water rafting, hiking, rock climbing, camping, and backpacking. Outdoor therapy relies on the healing power of nature as well as the many life lessons that can be learned while carrying out the different adventures and activities.
While outdoor therapy can be informal and unstructured, many studies support the countless therapeutic benefits that it offers such as the following:
- Improved feelings of joy, peace, and self-esteem
Other forms of experiential therapy do not involve much physical experiences but rather centers on fully experiencing emotions. The aim is to foster understanding of emotions and how they affect the patient’s behavior and reactions. Popular examples of such therapeutic interventions include:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This treatment method is anchored on the belief that learning processes play a vital role in substance abuse and other hurtful behaviors. Patients who participate in CBT learn how to accurately identify and rectify problematic behaviors as well as foresee potential issues by using essential life skills and coping strategies.
Regarding substance abuse disorder, CBT aids the patient in carefully assessing the positive and negative implications of drug use; in identifying potential situations that can trigger drug use; and in developing strategies to avoid such situations while at the same time using coping mechanisms to help with the cravings.
The many kinds of studies done over the years suggest that the critical life skills learned by patients who participated in CBT stay with them even after the completion of their drug treatment program. This is the reason cognitive behavioral therapy is deemed one of the best approaches for preventing relapse.
This kind of therapy primarily utilizes the strength and support of the family members to aid the patient undergoing drug rehab to stop abusing and start living without using drugs and alcohol. Apart from helping in the treatment process, family therapy also aims, in part, to lessen the damaging effects of the substance abuse to the whole family.
Some of the common interventions applied during family therapy include the following:
- Determination and solution of family conflict, abuse, and other issues
As the name suggests, this kind of therapy involves treatment intervention for two or more people who, unlike in family therapy, have no relationship with one another outside the therapy session. The session is guided and facilitated by a trained specialist.
Group therapy has been found to provide patients with the following benefits:
- The patients attending group therapy can build lasting friendships which can help them stay on the proper course even when they are already done with the treatment program. They can uplift those who are having a rough time and serve as an inspiration to continue moving forward.
While the various forms of experiential therapy discussed above differ in methods and execution, all of them essentially provide the patient with opportunities to…
- Accept greater responsibility for their actions
- Be more productive