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Cascade Canyon

Experiential Therapy



The term experiential therapy refers to a group of therapeutic techniques that involve the client expressing themselves through various methods using experience-based activities.

What is Experiential Therapy?

The term experiential therapy refers to a group of therapeutic techniques that involve the client expressing themselves through various methods using experience-based activities.

Experiential therapy is often used when individuals are having a difficult time expressing themselves verbally. In a residential or inpatient setting, sitting in many hours of talk therapy every day may not be beneficial. But engaging in activities that allow clients the space and freedom to express themselves without speaking can be extremely powerful.

Different Types of Experiential Therapy

  • Equine TherapyEquine Assisted Therapy (EAP) involves clients interacting with a horse as part of the therapeutic process. Typically during EAP, clients will not ride the horses. Instead, they will engage in tasks that involve caring for the horse. Brushing, harnessing, feeding, and walking them are all tasks that help the client develop a relationship with the horse. In this situation, horses are the therapeutic tool that gives clients the ability to identify and work through negative emotions and self-destructive behaviors.
  • Music TherapyMusic is something that is universal, which is why using it as a therapeutic modality can be extremely helpful and empowering for some clients. During music therapy, clients may experience playing, moving along to, or listening to music. Certain songs or instruments can bring up memories that the client needs to process, or can bring a sense of calm and peace to the client.
  • Adventure & Wilderness Therapy Adventure and wilderness therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of activities that involve getting the client moving and potentially experiencing new and exciting things. Hiking, rock climbing, biking, camping, low/high ropes courses, and obstacle courses can all be utilized as a means of experiencing new things and learning to adapt to your surroundings. Often these activities can be challenging for clients, and this encourages teens as they learn to build self-esteem, improve distress tolerance, and work as a team.
  • Art TherapyArt therapy is one of the most commonly used forms of experiential activities. During art therapy, various mediums are used to achieve a number of different goals. Teens are given the opportunity to use different art forms in order to express themselves. Painting a picture, sculpting something out of clay, or scribbling with an ink pen encourages teens who have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally to release some of the emotions that they are holding onto.
  • YogaMost people think of therapy as a conversation, but getting the physical body involved in a therapeutic setting is also important. When teens are given an opportunity to move their body and asked to hold certain poses for extended periods of time, it can teach distress tolerance and encourage movement. Yoga is also a great way to release pent up emotions, as several recent studies show that emotions can be held in the physical body. Yoga also encourages consistent movement and can help teens relax and learn to control their anxiety or anger through breathing exercises and other techniques.

How We Utilize Experiential Therapy

Cascade Canyon Teen Residential is a treatment program for teens ages 13-17 who are struggling with substance use or mental health disorders. Teens who are struggling with substance use and mental health disorders benefit greatly from the use of experiential activities and therapies.

Fostering New Forms of Expression

When a teen is struggling with substance use and mental health disorders, it’s not uncommon for them to also struggle with accurately expressing the emotions they’re feeling. At Cascade Canyon, teens engage in an experiential activity almost daily. Equine Assisted Therapy is used to help teens learn about healthy relationships, art and music therapy are used to foster positive self-expression, and wilderness therapy is used in order to help teens get their bodies moving and learn problem solving skills.

Family Weekend

Experiential therapy is also utilized during Cascade Canyon’s family weekend. The family weekend is a crucial part of the treatment program at Cascade Canyon. Parents and siblings are invited to spend a few days learning about their family unit and confronting the challenges that they have gone through individually and as a family. Things like low ropes courses, equine assisted therapy, and hiking are all used in order to foster a sense of community and allow families to spend time together in a positive setting.

Our Team

The highly trained and passionate staff members at Cascade Canyon care deeply for the wellbeing of every single teen that enters the program. The main goal of experiential therapy is to help teens learn about themselves, and the staff at Cascade Canyon works very hard to help foster opportunities for them.

If your teen is struggling with mental health disorders or substance abuse, reach out to one of our friendly and caring admissions coordinators. They would be more than happy to help you form a plan of care that will benefit not only your teen, but your whole family.

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