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The Life-Changing Benefits Of Experiential Therapy


What Is Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapy is true to its name, it is about recreating past experiences using patient-focused therapy techniques. The name encompasses a large number of different types of therapeutic techniques, which will be discussed in the next section. The basic premise behind experiential therapy is to allow those who need external help to express their inner feelings in a way that does not necessarily involve direct speech, although it sometimes can. That means that oftentimes, external tools are needed for this therapy, such as hands-on activities or even outdoor activities.

In experiential therapy sessions, someone’s negative emotions from events in their past are explored using these activities to work through, or sometimes even re-enact, those past events. For those who can not verbally work through their past, this type of therapy is incredibly useful for emotional processing and could be life-changing.

What Are Some Different Types of Experiential Therapy?

Some common types of experiential therapy include things such as music therapy, recreational therapy, art therapy, animal-assisted therapy such as equine therapy, drama therapy, adventure therapy, and even something called wilderness therapy. Equine-assisted therapy is an especially popular option and has proven to be helpful for a variety of different people, such as people with substance use disorders, mood disorders, behavior disorders, and other mental health issues.

These types of therapy are quite a bit different from traditional talk therapy and behavioral therapies, as you can tell. However, experiential therapy sessions are a great alternative for those with blocked trauma that could perhaps make it difficult to verbally talk about it. Exploring those challenging, often deep emotions can end up being easier to explore through external expressing oneself with outside media instead of directly speaking with another person.

How Can Experiential Therapy Help Me?

There are many examples of successful experiential therapy sessions. However, a well-known example of a successful type of experiential therapy is process experiential psychotherapy, specifically a case done by Dr. Leslie S. Greenberg. According to a program that Dr. L. S. Greenberg was on, process experiential psychotherapy is where the “therapist works to guide the client’s affective and cognitive processing of experience through the use of appropriate active interventions that facilitate the resolution of painful emotions.

What this means essentially is that the therapist, when going through this process with a patient, would guide their patient through whatever traumatic experience they were focusing on for the session and intervene when necessary to help the patient work through the emotions that would come up when revisiting those memories. In this specific session mentioned in the link above, Dr. Greenberg was helping a patient with depression explore his feelings and what moments led up to this period of severe emotional pain for the patient. In the end, they had fully explored all of the affective moments that had led to this period of depression, helping the patient to feel a sense of closure and start on the path to recovery.

This is what experiential therapy is capable of. Like the case described above, it can truly change a person’s outlook on life in a way other therapies may not have been capable of. If you have explored other therapeutic techniques that just have not worked to help unblock any emotions you may be struggling with internally, then experiential therapy might be the right option for you.

To learn more about experiential therapy and begin your recovery journey today, contact us online or call us at (726) 888-7003.