Experiential Therapy

therapist talking talking to man during experiential therapyExperiential therapy is hard to define, as it takes place in so many forms, methods, and settings. This type of family therapy program also suits treatment for a range of problems. In talk therapy, you control yourself according to what you believe the therapist wants to hear. But experiential methods free your responses, as the therapy recreates real-life scenarios to enable your feelings, beliefs, and attitudes to rise to the surface. Experiential therapy sessions also provide a better window into your subconscious truths. The methods therapists use to take you to these truths include art, animal-assisted, outdoor, psychodrama, recreational, and fitness therapy. But they also include some means of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy. Those methods include Gestalt, cognitive behavioral, and dynamic therapies.

What is experiential therapy?

Experiential methods extend beyond a peer group therapy into your family therapy program. Instead of sitting on sofas and talking to work through problems, some family therapists engage each of you through experiential means. This type of experiential family therapy program helps provide breakthroughs. It also enables you to communicate and bond in ways that talk therapies often cannot. Your experiential family therapy program or peer group experiential therapy takes shape around your group’s collective needs. Therapists develop these sessions to achieve specific goals, usually through the completion of tasks, creative processes, or gameplay. Whatever the experiential method, your therapy involves you in a creative process, struggle, or interaction. You develop insights into your nature and profound thoughts, experiences, and feelings. At the same time, you learn about your needs and ways to meet those needs.

How Experiential Methods Work

As said before, experiential therapy includes traditional methods, such as CBT, DBT, Gestalt, and dynamic therapy. Those methods focus on directly experiencing your feelings and thoughts. They include goals of understanding your emotions and how they affect your behaviors. But most people think of experiential therapy in terms of more active methods, such as outdoor, recreational, animal-assisted, or creative pursuits. Some of the most popular expressive experiential therapies include:


You act out your own life stories or join others in dramatic scenes. Using drama or theater, your therapist helps you achieve specific therapy goals.

Music Therapy and Art Therapy

Through music and creative arts like painting or sculpting, you make positive changes in your behavior. These changes occur based on better self-awareness and reduction in your negative experiences or trauma.

Play Therapy

Therapeutic play also works well in peer groups and families. This experiential method helps you break through psychological hurdles and resolve problems.

Poetry Therapy

As the name implies, you use poetry or literature to understand yourself better and grow.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is the most known method of animal-assisted therapy. In these sessions, you care for the animals or work with them to achieve specific goals. Because horses and other animals feed off of human energy to know how to behave, these animals reflect your energy to you in real-time. This interaction helps you see yourself more clearly. It also helps you become more self-aware, experience breakthroughs, and solve problems.

Adventure or Outdoor Therapy

Adventure therapy programs for addiction recovery involves actively working with a team or toward your own individual goals in cooperative games, obstacle courses, expeditions, rope courses, or other types of experiences.

Experiential Therapies and Other Methods for Addiction Recovery

At The Ranch in Tennessee and Pennsylvania, experiential methods complete a well-rounded treatment plan of therapies and approaches used for your best recovery. Besides experiential methods, your treatment plan may include:

  • Medical detox
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab
  • Aftercare and alumni programs
  • Family programs
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Trauma and PTSD therapies
  • Behavioral therapies

Call The Ranch today at 1.844.876.7680 to learn more about experiential therapy and how these programs help you reshape your life after substance abuse and dual diagnosis. Contact us to learn more about how you can have the life you dream of, with help and healing at The Ranch in Tennessee or Pennsylvania.

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