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There is no right or wrong way when it comes to treating addiction. Treatment plans should and do reflect the individual directly- meant to combat the specific areas that have contributed to negative or suppressing behaviors. There are a plethora of traditional methods like talk therapy and meditation that tend to benefit most individuals trying to overcome addiction. Although traditional methods should be incorporated, practicing new methods that tap into deeper emotional places could be the extra help you or a loved one needs.

One method gaining more and more attention is what is known as experiential therapy. Experiential therapy is really a category, not a specific type, but encourages all different kinds of expressive and discovery-oriented practices. It typically involves activities with art, animals, music, dance, or anything other act that ignites emotions and promotes relaxation.

What does Experiential Therapy Look Like?

Experiential therapy at Rise will look different for every patient who participates, but there are some basic guidelines you can expect. Addiction is a deeply rooted issue, and the post of this style therapy is to dig deep beyond the tip of the iceberg to find out what is enabling the addiction to continue and grow.

When emotions are neglected and pushed aside, the brain is tricked into forgetting them. Yet, the brain is our most powerful tool, and it has the ability to resurface old memories and emotions that were forgotten.

Experiential therapy is a tool to unlock those aspects of ourselves that we forcibly or subconsciously hid. Many of its forms may seem like a hobby or a game, but it’s important to remember that it is a therapeutical tool with a purpose. In a typical setting the therapist will have you take part in these seemingly not-addiction related activities, but as you participate the therapist will guide you to unlocking deeper emotions. The emotions that are used in the sessions are similar emotions that occur in our past- and the brain is able to recognize the similarities and resurface emotions.

Some forms of experiential therapy include:

  • Equine Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Creative Writing
  • Dancing
  • Stage Performance

How could tending to an animal such a horse help you overcome past trauma? The two may seem like they lack a connection, but observing a horse misbehave and learning to help it behave well could simultaneously remind you of a negative relationship of the past and at the same teach you how to recognize bad behavior in yourself.

Creative writing is another powerful experiential therapy practice. There are many exercises that therapist will use depending on the individual, but one in particular, commonly referred to as “free writing” is used often. Simply put, the therapist will prompt you with a sentence, and as you write that sentence you continue to write without stopping for a set amount of time. Even if you write “I don’t know what to write” you keep going. Once the mental block passes, thoughts and ideas from you subconscious begin to emerge and you will end up writing about things you didn’t even know you thought about. When working with a therapist- he or she will help you focus on things that could relate to the current addiction and together you will work through those thoughts.

These are just some examples of experiential therapy, but the general point is to unlock your mind and get to the real root of the problem. These methods are especially useful for those who find standard treatment to be ineffective.

What Are The Benefits?

The basic benefits were briefly touched upon, but participating in experiential therapy at Rise has endless benefits, even beyond addiction recovery. Some of them include

  • Increased ability to manage stress
  • Improved ability to focus on the here-and-now; to be present in the moment rather than dwelling on the future or the past
  • Reduction in perceived distress
  • Healthier body image
  • Improved focus and attention
  • Better communication skills
  • Improvements in coordination, dexterity, and movement
  • Reduction in undesirable or destructive behaviors
  • Increased capacity to follow direction
  • Increased ability to be independent
  • Decrease in impulsivity
  • Decrease in compulsive behaviors
  • Greater cooperation with others
  • Increase in motivation
  • Mental stimulation
  • Greater ability to love and care for others
  • Greater empathy and compassion
  • Improvements in mood/decrease in depressive symptoms
  • Decrease in feelings of anxiety and stress
  • Greater leadership skills
  • Increased willingness to try new things
  • Greater capacity for meaningful relationships with others
  • Healthier expression of emotions, including both negative and positive emotions
  • Increased ability to handle anger appropriately
  • Greater sense of connection and community
  • Increased optimism regarding one’s future
  • Increased insight into one’s needs, desires, and emotions
  • Increased creativity

Try Experiential Therapy At Rise

Our professionally trained staff at Rise has experience and passion in working with recovering addicts trying to overcome their past to build a better future. With knowledge and compassion, we can help you tap into the emotions that cause negative behaviors, and map a treatment plan to put addiction to an end a create a life worth living. If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome addiction and thinks experiential therapy could benefit you, call rise today to find out more about our treatment center and programs. Recovery is Possible with Rise.


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