Healing by Expression: The Power of Experiential Therapy

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Healing by Expression: The Power of Experiential Therapy

Traditional talk therapy alone may not work for everyone. Some people have difficulty expressing their emotions and may need additional experiences to supplement their time in talk therapy. Experiential therapy can help those who are healing from substance use by unlocking their repressed emotions in order to understand them better. For example, if your substance of choice was alcohol, your substance use may have left you feeling numb as you used drinking to escape from negative emotions.

You may have other unhealthy coping mechanisms for dealing with any type of negative or powerful emotion. Experiential therapy can help by bringing up emotions you might otherwise repress and by allowing you the opportunity to work on dealing with emotions. Various techniques and methods can be utilized in experiential therapy, and the overall experience is much more hands-on than traditional talk therapies. Let’s review some of the more common types of experiential therapies.

Role-Playing and Psychodrama

Building relationships with others is one of the most important parts of life. Relationships — whether with family, friends, co-workers, or romantic partners — can be challenging to maintain due to the inevitability of conflict. During role-playing exercises, you can work on practicing your communication skills with others. You can practice ways of dealing with conflicts and expressing your needs to others in healthy ways.

Role-playing can also help you understand situations from another person’s perspective. You may play the part of the other person while your therapist plays the part of you. Overall, role-playing can help you learn ways to strengthen your relationships, communicate your wants and needs, express your emotions to others, and understand the perspective of others.

Psychodrama is similar to role-playing in that you are practicing communication by playing the role of others. Psychodrama incorporates more theatrical and performance elements than role-playing, though. You may be playing a character in a play or acting out a fictional role with others in a group setting. The character you play may be going through similar conflicts to what you’re experiencing in your life. Psychodrama, like role-playing, helps you practice expressing your emotions and taking the perspective of others.

Art and Music Therapy

Art and music therapy are common types of experiential therapies. Art and music can help you experience and express emotions that you may have a difficult time verbalizing. Art therapy can include a number of hands-on activities, such as painting, crafts, sculpture, photography, or drawing. By engaging in artistic expression, you can reveal the emotions you may have hidden from others or yourself. An art therapist can help you identify the emotions that your artwork is expressing. Art therapy can also include discussing different works of art with a therapist. You may be prompted to speak about your feelings more easily when discussing a work of art.

Music therapy can be similar to art therapy, as you can use music to express powerful emotions. A music therapist can use a variety of techniques. They may encourage you to share songs that you enjoy or identify with. Your music therapist will then explore some of the reasons you identify with a particular song or lyric. You may also be asked to write song lyrics of your own or sing in order to fully engage in the expressive process. Both art and music therapy use artistic expression as a means of getting you in touch with your emotions.

Adventure Therapy and Physical Challenges

Adventure therapy can help you engage in challenging activities that force you to confront emotions that may be holding you back. You may need to learn ways to build self-confidence and challenge your insecurities or feelings of inadequacy. Adventure therapy can include various activities like hiking, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, camping, horseback riding, or bicycling.

Generally, these activities are completed outdoors and can help you dig deeper into your emotions by experiencing real-life challenges. You may also engage in obstacle courses and other physical challenges that test your resolve and your resiliency. Overall, adventure therapy helps you get in touch with the natural world and helps you learn that you have the ability to face challenges head-on.

While these are some of the more common practices utilized in experiential therapy, this is by no means a comprehensive list of all types. Any type of therapeutic activity that helps you experience or express your otherwise repressed emotions can be considered experiential therapy. Supplementing traditional talk therapy with experiential therapy can help you get back in touch with emotions you were unable to deal with.

Experiential therapy can also teach you new things about yourself and help you build your self-esteem. You are able to experience real emotions in a safe and therapeutic environment and can use these experiences to deal with the challenges of everyday life.

At The Kimberly Center, we focus on promoting wellness and building self-esteem to help those recovering from substance use disorders and related illnesses. Our program includes experiential therapies to help those struggling with their emotional expression. We believe that facing real challenges with therapeutic guidance can help prepare our clients for the pressures of everyday life. We also believe in encouraging our clients to find new ways of healing. Experiential therapy can be a powerful tool for those in recovery. With our therapies, clients engage in activities that can include sports, music, art, and adventure. These clients learn how to connect these experiences to their real lives, helping them to build healthy coping skills. At The Kimberly Center, our client-centered therapy empowers our clients to discover individualized paths to healing from substance use. We believe our clients can find success through a variety of treatment options. Call us today at (855) 452-3683 to discuss our comprehensive program.

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