Participating in experiential therapy activities can be a great addition to your traditional talk therapy sessions. By utilizing actions and movements in new and adventurous situations, you will be able to express yourself in more real-life scenarios. This can help you to identify the types of emotions that you feel when you experience success and even disappointment. As you explore negative feelings that can be roadblocks to your recovery, you’ll be able to release those painful emotions that hold you back from self-esteem and acceptance.
What Is Experiential Therapy?
Under the guidance of a skilled therapist, you will engage in activities that allow you to use your mind and body. This can help you to identify and address issues that may be suppressed in your subconscious, allowing you to better handle problems from past and present events and relationships. Studies show that experiential activities provide more than 80 percent more meaningful gains than traditional talk-therapy alone.
You are probably a bit more reserved during regular talk-therapy sessions. By leaving the traditional office setting, you are free to be yourself. Your therapist can better get to know you as you really are, giving them the opportunity to assist you more effectively.
By learning new skills and tackling new challenges, you will learn what success feels like, giving you more confidence to deal with potential obstacles in your life as they arise. You will no longer be held back by your past so that you can live life to your fullest potential.
Some of the conditions and disorders that can be alleviated through the use of experiential activities include the following:
- Substance addiction
- Mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis
- Chronic medical conditions
- Behavioral addictions
- Compulsive behaviors
- Eating disorders
- Anger issues
- Relationship problems
- Grief and loss
Types of Experiential Therapy Activities
The types of experiential activities that you choose should be decided on between you and your therapist. Some of these therapeutic activities may work better than others based on your issues and your understanding. However, the choices you make are entirely up to you and will be based on your personal preferences.
In equine-assisted therapy, you will get a chance to make a connection by interacting with horses. You may provide care by grooming or feeding a horse, and you may learn how to put a harness on and lead the horse around a small area. By making a personal connection with a non-judgmental animal, you can gain empathy and independence while increasing your impulse control and tolerance for stress.
Adventure and experience activities, such as kayaking and low ropes, help you to overcome social and behavioral challenges you may face. You will set and be held accountable for reaching goals while being encouraged to use positive behavior. By learning control, you can become motivated, improve your communication with others, build trust, and gain self-confidence.
Perhaps you would rather enjoy the healing benefits of a sweat lodge. This ceremonial experience removes toxins from the body for a purifying effect. Whether you need cleansing from substances or negative emotions, you will have a unique experience through the ceremonial aspects associated with this experiential activity.
If you are looking for a more creative outlet for your emotions, you might want to think about engaging in expressive therapy opportunities. Because art is subjective, there is no right or wrong way to release your subdued feelings in the moment. Reduce shame, increase empowerment and self-awareness, reduce stress, and cope with your symptoms while resolving emotional conflicts through the mind-body connection provided by the arts.
Self reflection through journaling is a good way to understand what events trigger certain emotions and reactions throughout your days. This allows you to avoid judgment by looking back over situations to learn more about cause and effect. After identifying certain negative patterns in feelings and your reactions, you can learn to grow and improve the way you handle yourself during stressful situations. This self-awareness can be a good way to encourage mindfulness as well.
You can learn how to be your best leading role model through activities such as watching yourself engage in a mirror, reversing roles, or playing back particular life experiences. You will gain a different perspective, learn more effective communication, and handle social situations more comfortably.
Living in the present can be difficult when your past holds such an influence over your mind and your behaviors. Through meditation and other mindfulness exercises, you can learn to live in the here and now, experiencing how you feel, the sensations provided by your body, and what is going on around you at any given moment. By gaining a new perspective, you can become more flexible and learn how the things you do and feel affect the world around you.
Labyrinth therapy allows participants to take a meditative journey through the circular patterns of a labyrinth. Whether guided by a therapist or done on your own, you will gain useful understanding that allows you to learn more about yourself and how your mind works in various situations. This can lead you to developing more positive patterns of behavior for your future.
Similar to adventure therapy, wilderness therapy allows you to use your body while learning new skills. Whether through hiking, backpacking, camping, or other outdoor activities, you and your group will learn how to cope through certain situations, work together for a common goal, and leave your worldly cares behind for awhile. Because you are out in nature and away from your daily routine, you can often disassociate negative behavioral patterns to overcome stress, anger, and some behavioral issues while learning to cope with change.
Body-centered therapies, including yoga and breathwork, can help you move out of your head and access trauma that may be stored in the body. These somatic experiences give space for deep healing of that which may not even be conscious or known.
Enjoy the Benefits of Experiential Therapy Activities
If you are searching for a new way to find healing, experiential therapy provides a creative, interactive way to accomplish your recovery goals. By integrating the past with the present, you can overcome unresolved conflicts, enhance your ability to solve problems, be accountable for the choices you make, and learn to build more satisfying personal relationships.
Integrative Life Center incorporates experiential therapy with more traditional therapy methods – such as CBT or DBT – to provide you with an inclusive and unique treatment plan. If you find yourself struggling with any number of conditions, consider reaching out to ILC to discuss treatment options.