Treatment Professional

Which Experiential Therapies Benefit Clients the Most?


Experiential therapy can provide many unique benefits to help clients express their emotions. Call The Edge Treatment today to learn how we can help!

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Treatment Professional

January 13, 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

  • Animal-assisted 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:

  • Addiction

  • Dual diagnosis

  • Trauma

  • Behavioral problems

  • Mental health disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Self-image or identity issues

Expressive Therapy

  • 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

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 self-esteem

  • Improved social interactions and relationships

  • Decreased stress levels

  • Learning respect, empathy, responsibility, and confidence

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:

  • Reduced stress

  • Reduced anxiety

  • Decreased depression symptoms

  • Improved sleep

  • 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.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.