When treating addiction, there are many different options available. There are many different medicines, therapies, recovery meetings, and rehab options that can help people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. One of the varieties of therapy options includes experiential therapy, a therapy that incorporates several different techniques that can help people come to terms with underlying issues.

Activity is central to this type of therapy. The therapy requires people to engage in different activities. Just a few of the activities may include role-playing, sculpting, painting, rock climbing, or using different props to dig deeper into problems that may be causing addiction. Working through problems using this style of therapy gives clients an opportunity to improve their problem-solving skills and become more aware of problematic behavior.

What Is Experiential Therapy? 

Experiential therapy is almost always a hands-on type of treatment that helps people cope with trauma from their pasts. Many people find it hard to talk to someone who is unfamiliar with substance abuse. This is especially true if the person is not comfortable with people who struggle with addiction.

If people with addiction problems attend a traditional therapy session, they may go from finding it difficult to talk to shutting out other people completely. Therapy techniques used in experiential therapy treatment may create environments where clients feel relaxed and comfortable. This helps them feel more comfortable to discuss their programs.

Employing this type of therapy helps people develop a greater sense of self-awareness. It helps them get in touch with their deepest fears, goals, needs, motives, and desires, whether they are good or bad. Once someone identifies and understands their emotions and why they are on the destructive path of addiction, they can begin a process of healing.

One of the greatest benefits of choosing this style of therapy is that it allows therapists to observe clients in different settings and situations that mimic real-life scenarios. This gives therapists more knowledge and understanding of their clients, understanding that may ultimately lead to helping their clients achieve sobriety.

 Types of Experiential Therapy  

While they use different techniques that place clients in healthy, comfortable environments, there are various types of experiential therapy. They ensure that clients receive different types of care for different types of problems. Whether it be an addiction to alcohol or drugs, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a dual diagnosis of an addiction and a mental health condition, sexual abuse, or other types of hardship, this therapy may help. Different types of therapy include:

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) 

As the name suggests, equine-assisted psychotherapy uses horses as a part of the therapy process. Clients do not necessarily ride horses during this treatment, but instead, they work various tasks to care for horses. Some of the tasks include harnessing, leading, grooming and feeding horses. The horses are tools used to help clients identify, work through, and change negative behaviors. The therapy also helps people work through negative emotions and other problematic issues.


Psychodrama is a technique used in a group setting where one person takes a role as a protagonist and other members take on other supporting roles. By dramatizing a problem or scenario, clients can examine personal scenarios from a new perspective. They can also try out new, healthy behaviors, engage in internal conflicts, and work through painful emotions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) 

This specific type of treatment is used to help clients struggling with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They re-experience thoughts, images, and feelings associated with such traumatic events in the forms of flashbacks and nightmares, and reliving these experiences may trigger behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse. The goal behind this therapy is to help people safely face such memories in order to overcome stress caused by specific incidents. Doing this may prevent negative coping mechanisms.

Gestalt Therapy  

Instead of role-playing or reliving a stressful situation, this type of therapy focuses on personal responsibility. It helps people to live in the present and lets them address unfinished business. Often times the empty chair method is used with Gestalt therapy. This method requires clients to imagine having a conversation with someone or something in an empty chair.

Sandtray Therapy  

Sandtray therapy or sandplay therapy is an experiential therapy that uses a tray of sand with different objects. People are advised to play freely with the objects in the sand, creating different stories or scenarios. As the therapy sessions progress, the stories behind what the clients are doing unfold. This helps them discover and resolve underlying problems.

 Adventure Therapy  

Adventure therapy is a therapy that allows people to perform activities that they enjoy while participating in therapy sessions. It allows people to develop interpersonal skills, initiative, and the ability to work in a team setting.

Wilderness Therapy  

As its name says, wilderness therapy is a treatment that takes place outdoors and involves activities such as hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, and rock climbing. This therapy is specifically conducted in a group and is often targeted towards children with behavioral problems. The therapy aims to place these children in settings where they cannot coerce, bully, or manipulate someone or something. It may build responsibility and accountability, which may help people struggling with substance abuse.

Art and Music Therapy  

This form of therapy allows struggling people to express their feelings and emotions through an artistic medium, such as painting, drawing, or performing music. It helps to heal painful emotions and memories and build self-esteem and self-respect.

Play Therapy  

Play therapy can be used with children or adults who are unable to express themselves with words. Problems such as addiction, trauma, and emotional issues can be revealed through the act of playing. Whether it is playing a game or playing with others, play therapy may help resolve underlying problems that lead to addiction and other problems.

Addiction is one of the hardest things someone may face. Without different types of treatments, some may overcome it and others may not. Experiential therapy may be an effective choice for anyone struggling with addiction and substance abuse issues because it allows people to express themselves in natural ways. It lets people be their true selves while seeking treatment.


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