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Experiential therapy involves role playing, props, arts & crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery or recreational therapy. As clients practice these activities and through the experience, begin to identify emotions related to success, disappointment, responsibility, and self-esteem. These activities can help create a safe way for the client and therapist to work through negative and intense emotions and start to release them.
As a client focuses on the activity or task at hand, the the therapist might talk with them about how the experience makes them feel. Through this process we may identify certain actions which help the client understand the emotions attached to specific behaviors. Experiential Therapy helps clients better express their emotions and thoughts while interacting with others.
Motivational Interviewing is a type of experiential therapy that the therapist becomes the helper in the change process and express acceptance of the client. It is frequently used to treat substance abuse. It helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) was created by clinical psychologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick while they were treating alcoholics in the 80's.
MI has 4 tenets that are applied to treatment:
These four steps help build trust and connection between the patient and the therapist, focusing on areas that may need to be changed and determining the reasons a client may have for changing or holding onto a behavior.
Another example of an experiential technique used in family therapy would be to have each family member draw their family and then discuss the drawing with each other. The use of art therapy in this manner may draw out dynamics or information in families that otherwise would not be talked about in a session.
Many studies have shown that movement plays an important role in learning, as well as releasing stress. Another key aspect of experiential therapy for young adults is how it promotes community, team-building, and deeper relationships with one’s peers.
When used in family therapy, it can uncover unspoken rules about how a person fits in the family, the roles each member plays in the family, and work to enact change in dynamics, communication, and improve coping skills.
The combination of traditional talk therapy with these non-traditional interventions can improve brain function and keep the mind-body connection strong.
Sandstone Care uses experiential therapy in all of their programming, including our Teen Residential Center in Colorado Springs or our intensive outpatient centers in Maryland and Colorado. If you have a question about our services, contact one of admissions coordinators at 888-850-1890.
At Sandstone Care, we use a variety of experiential therapies to help young adults whether in individual therapy sessions or our weekly multi-family therapy groups.
For example, a clinician may guide young adults in writing and playing music in music therapy, or drawing in art therapy. Another example would be having family members direct each other in a task while blindfolded; this would be a great way to learn about familial communication styles, and how families deal with frustration, anger and disappointment or how they may or may not work together to achieve a goal. Dynamics emerge in experiential therapy and then can be addressed in real time with the therapist in a supportive environment.
They may also do yoga and outdoor activities, like rock climbing or a ropes course. Through these activities, young adults will have an opportunity to continue learning how to process their emotions and behaviors in situations that are less reactive.