Experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach founded in the 1970s. Based on the open-minded zeitgeist of that time, experiential therapy opened the door to new ways to treat mental health concerns based on experiential theory. This theory proposes that healing is best achieved through firsthand, body-based experiences. Therefore, the catharsis happens in real time.
What Is Experiential Therapy?
As the name indicates, experiential therapy involves interactive, action-oriented techniques. As opposed to traditional talk therapy, experiential allows people to be in the moment. In addition, it is beneficial for those who don’t do well with talk therapy. Thus, it helps clients to process core emotional challenges. This is especially beneficial for teenagers.
Through adventure therapy, music therapy, expressive arts, equine therapy, and other modalities, clients express or re-enact emotional situations from the past. Therefore, a client can identify emotions associated with trauma, self-esteem issues, and many other psychological challenges. Furthermore, this is beneficial for teens and young adults since their brains are still developing. Hence, the healing takes place physiologically, as well as psychologically.
With the guidance of a therapist trained in experiential therapy, a person explores feelings of trauma, anger, hurt, or shame. Moreover, they can uncover past experiences and then process the pain through tools acquired in experiential learning. Hence, individuals experience change directly as opposed to merely trying to think themselves beyond pain.
Teen Experiential Theory
Based on Gestalt therapy, in which experiences are favored over language, experiential is founded in the idea that perception governs behavior. Furthermore, actions are needed to change perception. We can’t simply think ourselves out of suffering. Thus, experiential therapy is often useful in the treatment of teen depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and various types of behavioral addictions.
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