Experiential therapy is not the type of therapy where a person passively talks to a counselor during a therapy session (referred to as Talk Therapy). Experiential therapy involves actions such as role playing, imagery and many other action-oriented, hands-on activities. Hands-on activities are geared toward helping people get in touch with deep emotions, identify positive and negative personality traits and resolve problematic issues.
Therapists who are skilled in Experiential Therapy are “coaches” to their clients. Coaches help their clients move forward from negative experiences and achieve emotional growth and insight.
Types of Experiential Therapy
The therapeutic, hands-on nature of Experiential Therapy is the basis for many activities such as:
- Adventure therapy
- Art therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Equine therapy
- Music therapy
- Play therapy
- Recreation therapy
- Sand tray therapy
- Wilderness therapy
Why is Experiential Therapy Helpful?
- When a person is engaged in a therapeutic activity, the person tends to let his guards down. When guards are down, the person will act in a more genuine manner, allowing the therapist to observe behaviors and traits that can be built upon and/or can be the basis for further therapeutic work.
- Experiential therapy is also helpful for the family of someone engaged in treatment. As the family becomes healthier, so will the person.
- A person will experience successes during various Experiential Therapy sessions and activities. This helps to increase self-esteem, confidence and empowerment.
- Engaging in hands-on activities forces a person to increase responsibility for his actions.
- An indirect benefit of enjoyable, therapeutic activities is that they teach a person ways to fill time, have fun and see the importance of leisure in their life.
Uses of Experiential Therapy
Experiential therapy has been used as one of many other therapies in the treatment of certain disorders. Children, teenagers and adults have benefited from Experiential Therapy. People suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, addictions, trauma, compulsive behaviors and a variety of other conditions can benefit from the effectiveness of Experiential Therapy.