Experiential Therapy at JourneyPure Serenity Network
Developed in the 1970s, experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses hands-on activities such as art, music or role playing, to encourage patients to identify hidden or subconscious psychological issues. We incorporate several experiential therapies into the schedule each day as a way to promote teamwork and encourage inner reflection. We encourage our patients to be open-minded to the benefits of these non-traditional therapies. Many have experienced personal breakthroughs during these sessions.
Art therapy can be a powerful way to address emotional and spiritual needs of patients. By providing a creative outlet like painting or drawing, therapists help patients uncover complex, buried emotions. We also incorporate sculpture work and the use of masks into our program. While expressing feelings and exploring creativity, patients are sometimes able to explore emotional trauma that has been too painful to reach through traditional methods.
The American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is used in several settings to benefit people with a history of trauma, depressions or physical health conditions (cancer, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities). The Association’s website describes art therapy as something that “helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight.”
Drama Therapy is the therapeutic use of dramatic processes, including role-play, theatrical productions, and improvisation, to facilitate personal growth, improve self-worth, encourage more appropriate and positive behaviors.
During sessions, drama therapists guide clients to properly express feelings and emotions due to trauma, mental illness or other behavioral problems. Working together with others experiencing addiction, the process helps to improve interpersonal skills, help the patients develop communication skills and be honest with themselves and others. Drama allows for patients to act out negative behaviors and realize the harmful effects of these behaviors without true consequences. It is a safe setting to experience these feelings and learn that living substance-free life that is fun and fulfilling is possible and within reach.
Benefits of Experiential Therapy
Better Sense of Self
The overall goal of experiential therapy is to bring awareness to a number of emotions that have been buried for some time. Many who come through our doors have experienced trauma. Experiential therapies can play a major role in helping people rediscover the person they were prior to addiction. Art and music therapy, for example allow participants to express themselves through creativity, not only tapping into hidden feelings but possibly hidden talents.
Experiential therapy activities are designed to build self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, something that has been lost in active addiction. Whether discovering new physical strengths through adventure or yoga therapy, exploring a creative side with art and drama, patients can truly uncover hidden abilities, vastly improving self-esteem.
In an article published by CRC Health, author Michael Hurst writes, “Change, emotional growth, and personal empowerment are all among the benefits of participating in an effective experiential therapy program. Because experiential therapy patients are often focused on the task or activity at hand — rather than on the therapeutic aspect of the experience — they are more likely to behave in a more unguarded and genuine manner.”
Better Client/Therapist Relationship
According to addition.com, a significant advantage of experiential therapy is that the therapist is able to observe their clients in real-world settings, where they are more likely to “show their true colors” as opposed to a traditional therapy session. Patients tend to be less guarded and can unleash true emotions in a safe, uninhibited setting.
Building Trust and Fostering Healthy Relationships
Many experiential therapy sessions are held in group settings, which encourage teamwork and communication. For patients that have experienced some form of trauma – physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, etc – there may be a lack of trust in personal relationships. Group-led therapies help break down walls and encourage healthy bonds by sharing personal struggles and challenges in a safe environment.
Ready to experience all that JourneyPure Serenity Network has to offer in addiction treatment? Contact us today to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable admissions coordinators.