Which Experiential Therapies Benefit Clients the Most?
13 January, 2022
Combining multiple forms of therapy and treatment often proves beneficial in treating mental health and behavioral issues. Some people need more treatment than just medication and talk therapy. Having alternatives outside of the typical therapeutic options gives your patient the best chance of recovering from addiction and mental health disorders.
One such option is experiential treatment, which allows patients to work through their trauma, emotions, and feelings they have kept inside. Experiential therapy offers different benefits for each person, so it is important to assess what would benefit your clients the most.
What Is Experiential Therapy?
Experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses expressive tools for patients to work through past and present traumas. This form of therapy allows people to let their guard down and open up to healing. It relies on using creative and holistic approaches that follow psychological models and work best when paired with other treatments like medication or CBT.
The most common types of experiential therapies include:
Art and music therapy
Roleplay or psychodrama
Guided imagery therapy
Who Is Experiential Therapy Best Suited For?
A mix of therapies often proves to be the best approach in treating patients. Experiential therapy is patient-based and knowing which style of therapy is best suited for different circumstances can help you identify what will be best for your clients. Experiential therapies allow people to try a different route than typical treatments like talk therapy or different kinds of tests.
While these things are certainly helpful, they can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for some people, so trying an alternative approach allows them to receive a form of therapy that puts them more at ease. If you have a client that has difficulty with verbal expressions, an alternative approach like experiential therapies can be extremely beneficial.
Experiential therapy is most commonly used for people needing treatment for the following:
Mental health disorders
Self-image or identity issues
Art therapy involves active artmaking through a creative process based on psychological theory. Therapy is led by a licensed art therapist, accredited by the ATCB, who has undergone training in art and clinical training in therapy. Art therapy is unique in that clients will have something physical to show for their time in a session.
Music therapy is used to address and work through the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social needs of an individual. It can also be done in a group setting. It incorporates instruments, songwriting, and guided imagery into therapy sessions. Certified music therapists work with individuals from a multitude of backgrounds. Music therapy is best suited for people dealing with emotional issues like depression or mood disorders, grief, and anxiety.
Roleplay or psychodrama is a form of therapy that allows a group of people to explore their problems through acting. This approach to therapy explores cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses through roleplay, creativity, group dynamics, and spontaneity. Psychodrama allows people to work through past, present, or future moments in their lives from a different perspective and find new ways to handle these situations. They can do so in a safe space and practice interactions without real-world stress or consequences. Psychodrama is best suited for people who struggle with mood disorders, trauma, grief, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties, or personality disorders.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) involves animals to assist in the psychotherapy process. AAT allows someone to learn the process of bonding with another being, which heightens the chance of emotional recovery as the relationship progresses. This form of treatment is especially beneficial for people who deal with anxiety, as AAT is known to reduce anxiety symptoms. Organizations and some residential treatment centers offer different forms of animal therapy led by trained AAT professionals that depend on the animals they have access to. Common animals used in AAT are horses, dogs, and cats. Animal therapy offers the benefits of:
Reduced aggressive behaviors
Improved social interactions and relationships
Learning respect, empathy, responsibility, and confidence
Decreased stress levels
Guided Imagery Therapy
Guided imagery is excellent for people who deal with high levels of stress. In a therapy session, the individual is instructed to visualize peaceful and calming settings like the beach or the mountains and go through a guided meditation. This is a relaxation technique that requires you to concentrate on specific senses, sounds, or objects to help calm your mind. The setting for this technique should be a quiet and comfortable spot like a couch, yoga mat, or bed. Many platforms such as YouTube or Headspace offer guided audio recordings that lead a meditation for someone to follow. Some of the benefits guided imagery offers are:
Decreased depression symptoms
Decreased physical pain and fatigue
One unique and beneficial aspect of this particular form of therapy is that guided imagery can be done on your client’s own time or can be incorporated into a therapy session. It can be flexible, but the benefits are just as numerous as the other options discussed here.
Providing clients with the best chance at reaching and maintaining full recovery requires finding the best blend of therapies for their needs. Experiential therapy is a unique and innovative technique that offers many therapeutic benefits while putting clients at ease.
Finding The Best Experiential Fit For Your Clients
If you have clients who would benefit from adding experiential therapy into their treatment, there are many programs and techniques to refer clients to or incorporate in your next therapy session. At The Edge Treatment Center, we provide quality service through trained staff that can help you find the best fit for your clients. If you are interested in referring a client or finding out more, call us today.