Experiential Art Therapy at Gentle Path

Experiential Therapy Activities in Treatment

Written By: Gentle Path

By Wesley Gallagher

Therapy is an essential part of treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues. While most of us think of therapy as sitting in a room talking to a therapist (or lying on a big leather couch like in the movies), therapy actually comes in all shapes and sizes. Traditional talk therapy is an old standby, but experiential therapy activities for addiction treatment and mental health can bring holistic healing through incorporation and integration of the mind and the body.

What Are Experiential Therapy Activities?

According to VeryWellMind.com, experiential therapy involves immersing yourself in an experience in order to access certain psychological elements that can’t otherwise be reached. And unlike talk therapy, where thinking in new ways can lead to acting in new ways, experiential therapy activities flip that idea on its head, with new ways of acting leading to new ways of thinking.

Unlike talk therapy, where thinking in new ways can lead to acting in new ways, experiential therapy activities flip that idea on its head, with new ways of acting leading to new ways of thinking.

These hands-on interventions allow you deeper access to emotional processing, inner thoughts, and interactions with others, bringing about healing for trauma and grief and a greater understanding of your responses to past experiences. Focusing outside of yourself can also help you confront difficult thoughts and situations you may typically avoid, and creative forms of experiential therapy can help you express yourself.

There is a wide range of experiential activities used in therapy, but some of the most common ones include:

  • Drama Therapy and Psychodrama

These techniques involve role-playing and reenacting hard situations in a safe environment, allowing you to release any negative or suppressed emotions, understand others’ perspectives, and resolve trauma.

  • Music Therapy

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is the clinical practice of using music to accomplish individualized goals such as reducing stress, alleviating pain, expressing emotions, and improving communication. It may include listening to music, playing an instrument, singing, or composing music.

  • Art Therapy

The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as an integrative mental health service that fosters self-esteem, self-awareness, and resilience, enhances insight and social skills, and reduces and resolves conflict. Active art making and the creative process engage the mind, body, and spirit in ways that talking cannot.

  • Outdoor Activities

Taking therapy outdoors has several benefits. Nature is a natural mood booster, and walking increases creative output, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association. Physical health is also closely related to mental health, so outdoor activities are a great complement to talk therapy.

  • Equine Therapy

Can horses be therapists? In a way, yes. Like other forms of experiential therapy, interacting with horses can open you up in ways that talk therapy may not. Psychotherapy with horses involves “groundwork” interactions like grooming and leading as you work through cognitive and behavioral principles, and therapeutic riding is designed to empower the mind-body connection.

Benefits of Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy activities provide many benefits to people in treatment for addiction and mental health challenges:

  • Conflict Resolution

Re-creating or exploring traumatic or conflictual situations can help you understand your response to them and release any negative emotions associated with them.

  • Emotional Processing

Big emotions can come from experiential therapy activities, allowing you to dive more deeply into them than you might by just talking about them.

  • Reduced Avoidance

Engaging your body along with your mind can help you confront situations, feelings, or conflicts you might otherwise avoid.

  • Change in Perspective

As you reenact situations or conversations from the past, you may be able to see things from others’ perspectives, allowing for acceptance and forgiveness.

  • Creative Expression

Music, art, and drama therapy can increase your ability to express yourself creatively, which can be a key part of mental and emotional health.

What the Meadows Family Has to Offer

Gentle Path at The Meadows and the rest of our Meadows Behavioral Healthcare programs incorporate experiential therapy activities into residential treatment in a variety of ways. All of our Arizona facilities offer activities like trauma-sensitive yoga, on-site art rooms, and access to the ropes course and equine therapy at Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows. The Meadows Ranch has horses on site for therapy and limited riding, and The Meadows Texas offers Eagala-based equine psychotherapy through a neighboring organization. The Meadows Malibu is just a few blocks from the ocean, and other therapy options include art, music, drama, and yoga. Each of our centers offers a unique set of activities that cater to the patients they treat. Even our outpatient programs offer trauma-sensitive yoga and art therapy.

With the help of these and other proven therapeutic methods, Gentle Path can lead you toward individualized, whole-person healing from sex addiction and mental health issues. By focusing on the traumas and underlying pain beneath self-destructive behaviors, we can give you what you need for lifelong recovery and freedom. Learn more today.

October 18th, 2022

Categories: mental health treatment sex addiction treatment therapy treatment

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