Therapy comes in many forms. It does not always look like an emotional conversation in a therapist’s office. Some of the most powerful breakthroughs can happen when fully immersed in an activity or experience. That’s why many people turn to experiential therapy programs with non-traditional approaches to better mental health.
Contact Virtues Behavioral Health at 855.579.8599 today for more information about our experiential therapy techniques in Los Angeles, California.
What Is Experiential Therapy?
When most people think of going to therapy, they think of sitting and talking while a nearly silent psychologist listens and takes notes. While that is definitely part of the therapeutic experience, talk therapy is not the only method. The simple answer to “what is experiential therapy?” is that it is a planned experience offering the potential for personal growth.
Experiential therapy is a type of therapy that requires the client to participate in some kind of action besides just talking. The theory behind using experiential therapy techniques is that you can access the knowledge you might not otherwise realize by engaging in an activity—fully immersing yourself in an experience. The realizations gained with experiential therapy can inspire clients to change how they act or think.
Role-playing is one of the most common experiential therapeutic exercises. If you have ever seen a therapist in Los Angeles, California, chances are you’ve probably participated in role-playing. It is especially useful in couple’s therapy. By putting yourself in another person’s shoes and answering or asking questions as you believe the other person would, you can better understand their point of view.
There are many types of experiential therapy techniques your therapist may ask you to explore. In addition to role-playing, four of the most typical methods include:
- Art therapy
- Adventure (outdoor) therapy
- Music therapy
- Animal-assisted therapy
You can incorporate these methods in your own life without the formal assistance of a therapist. However, if you are currently in therapy, don’t hesitate to mention your interest in experiential techniques to your mental health professional.
1. Art Therapy
Art therapy is rooted in the idea that free creative expression can enhance mental well-being. It is not about developing highly adept artistic skills. Art therapy is about personal expression. Techniques used include:
- Art journaling
Participating in art therapy can help relieve stress, reduce depression and trauma symptoms, and build self-esteem.
2. Adventure Therapy
Adventure therapy is also referred to as outdoor therapy or wilderness therapy. The emphasis here is meeting a new challenge and pushing yourself beyond the limits you thought you were capable of. However, you don’t have to risk your life in a rugged outback to benefit from this technique.
Participating in a supervised wilderness program alone or with your family or partner can be an emotional and bonding experience.
3. Music Therapy
Music therapy is highly recommended for people with depression, especially if they also have physical health problems limiting their activities. Like art therapy, music therapy doesn’t require expertise. It can include writing music, playing an instrument, singing, dancing, or listening to music.
4. Animal-Assisted Therapy
This form of experiential therapy program involves caring for or working with animals somehow. Participation may include:
- Volunteering at the animal shelter
- Swimming with dolphins
- Riding or caring for horses
- Becoming a dog trainer
- Adopting a pet
Animal-assisted therapy is another example of experiential therapy recommended for clients with depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance use disorders.
Explore Experiential Therapy Programs with Virtues Behavioral Health
Experiential therapy techniques can add variety and pleasure to your mental wellness journey. When combined with traditional therapeutic methods, experiential therapy can have a powerful impact on your healing process.
Contact Virtues Behavioral Health today at 855.579.8599 for more information about the experiential therapy programs we offer.