Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is a term that encompasses a number of therapeutic techniques that require engaging in some type of activity or action.  Everything from equine assisted psychotherapy to art therapy to psychodrama is considered experiential therapy. Despite the different approaches, most experiential therapy techniques will use tools and activities to recreate situations from past and current relationships, in an effort to identify the emotions that arise. With the guidance of a professional experiential therapist, the client can explore these feelings and begin to release these feelings. Individuals who have been through trauma, are dealing with an eating or behavioral disorder, working through anger or grief issues, as well as various addictions can benefit from experiential therapy. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s experiential therapy experts today.

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Once we understand how the trauma is affecting you today we can do a deeper piece of work. Experiential therapy creates an internal shift and is more effective than just talk therapy alone. It breaks through unconscious resistances and gets to the root of the underlying traumas. By depicting your inner world visually through inner child work, Gestalt empty chair techniques, psychodrama techniques etc, you will experience new insights, release emotions, and new healthy beliefs about self emerge.

— Leanne Tanis, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Carefree, AZ

Experiential therapy I use primarily with adolescents since their emotions are important and to understand that emotions are important. I allow my clients to speak from emotion since they have a lot to say and there is no judgment.

— Amisha Gandhi, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Kirkland, WA

Experiential therapists believe we need new experiences to heal from past experiences, especially when those past experiences have gotten stuck and unprocessed. Experiential therapy refers to treatment approaches that are more interactive, such as sand tray, art, music re-enactments, and others.

— Morgan Ticum, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Overland Park, KS

Jodi's education in Contemplative Psychotherapy as well as her further training in body-centered Play Therapy and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy combines with her personal study of movement practices and expressive arts to create a perfect atmosphere for experiential therapy...beyond just talk.

— Jodi Alieksaites, Licensed Professional Counselor in Columbia, MO

Experiential Therapy is experience based processes. It utilizes techniques such as role-playing, music, guided imagery and re-experiences of emotional situations or relationships. Through the processes clients begin to identify the emotions associated with their experiences. I empower clients with these processes to let go of negative feelings, shame, anger and hurt while recreating positive thinking patterns. Experiential Therapy is used to treat trauma, behaviors and debilitating emotions.

— Cindy Hyde, Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, TX

Adventure Therapy, Experiential Therapy, Wilderness Therapy, Nature-Based Therapy… all of these names describe an approach of inviting clients to engage in an experience so that they can learn about themselves. Together we’ll decide what activity would be most helpful to you each session. We’ll engage in that activity together in a mindful, trauma-informed way and have deep, reflective conversion, weaving together relevant threads from Evidence Based Practices.

— Kallie England, Clinical Social Worker in Ann Arbor, MI

EFT involves a therapeutic style that combines both following and guiding the client’s experiential process, emphasizing the importance of both relationship and intervention skills. It views emotion as the fundamental datum of human experience while recognizing the importance of meaning making, and views emotion and cognition as inextricably intertwined.

— Michael Bricker, Psychologist in Chicago, IL

Since artmaking is inherently experiential, my graduate training incorporated an understanding of how experiential therapy works to create shifts in people at physical, emotional, and intellectual levels. Experiential therapy involves the use of in-session experiences to initiate positive and integrative changes in the mental images that become a client’s thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. The experiences that are introduced are specific to the client’s unique nervous system patterns.

— Megan VanMeter, Art Therapist

In Experiential Therapy, the client uses their body to recreate or create neurological pathways that eventually can override 'destructive' behaviors that at one point in time were constructive and permitted the client to survive.

— Sibley Fleming, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Marietta, GA

I did work with children early on and love integrating the experiential side of things through use of animal-assisted counseling, sand tray, and other techniques to help bring issues more into more the moment and address them appropriately.

— Jorge Flores, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

Experiential therapy is a holistic approach by which we engage the entire body in the therapeutic process. This engagement leads to the utilization of more regions of the brain which then leads to better integration.

— Kellita Thompson, Marriage & Family Therapist in Brentwood, TN

I am currently in an intensive Core Training on Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy.

— Alison Schweichler, Counselor in Orchard Park, NY

Talk therapy alone is ineffective without experiencing your growth through applying skills to gain consciousness, awareness, and insight, along with skills and processes to work with the conditions of our lives that challenge us. One must "experience their life" to make actual change.

— Roderic Burks, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

Hakomi and Somatic Experiencing are types of experiential therapies, which means working in the present moment experience of what is happening in your body. Sometimes it's helpful for my clients to take a break from using language in order to listen to their bodies.

— James Reling, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Therapy should provide profound and lasting healing, not merely symptom management. I practice an evidenced-based approach to healing called Emotion-Focused Therapy. EFT aims to activate your emotions, to help you to explore them, and in some cases change them. You’ll learn which emotions are adaptive, pointing you towards new experiences and growth. You’ll also learn to change painful emotions and memories.

— Aimee Ruscio, Psychologist in Washington, DC

Have you ever felt like you could talk yourself—and your therapist—in circles, but it was a waste of time and never translated to meaningful change? Yeah, me too. I combine talk therapy with other evidence-based techniques such as expressive and creative arts, role play, ecotherapy, self-designed ceremony, and movement and body awareness. These techniques allow you to have a new experience RIGHT NOW, which helps your brain update your understanding of the world and yourself.

— Rachel Shopper, Counselor in Asheville, NC

I integrate art, journaling, nature, story, and role-play when clients are particularly feeling "stuck". The integration of experiential work can provide another layer of processing, healing and insight into their journey and I find working in this way expedites the process of therapy beyond the conventional 1:1 office-based setting.

— Reena Patel, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Experiential Therapy focuses on the client’s own lived experiences and their ability to make meaning from them. This type of therapy places emphasis on the human condition as a whole, exploring human capacities and aspirations while simultaneously acknowledging human limitations. This is my primary treatment orientation.

— Karalyn Violeta, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Brooklyn, NY

Experiential therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that includes recreational activities, various expressive modalities, and other physical and emotional activities. Through hands-on activities or role-play, children, teens, and adults can learn to identify and focus on their feelings. The goal is to improve overall well-being and functioning and overcome negative emotions.

— Jon Soileau, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Kansas City, MO