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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Hakomi is a type of experiential therapy, which means going beyond talk-therapy to focus on the moment.

— James Reling, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Experiential Therapy brings the "story" of what's happening into life. Using carefully crafted re-enactments of specific situations w/another person - the argument you had last night, the talk you need to have with your boss, the conversation you wish you had w/ a parent - or connections between different parts of yourself - the parts that are "responsible" & the parts that are carefree. The endgame is to FEEL and KNOW your experience in the HERE and NOW, versus THINKing about things could be.

— Randi Kofsky, Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Monica, CA

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

— Alison Schweichler, Counselor in Orchard Park, NY

I have over 500 hours of training in psychodramatic role play and other action methods, many of them from longstanding experts in the field. I have been honored and privileged to train with some individuals who were taught by an original developer of these methods. This does not count the significant hours of supervision and consultation I have received since beginning in 2018.

— Carley Foster, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Frederick, MD

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 ONLINE, CO

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

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 like experiential approaches because it gives us the freedom and ability to experience what is healing in that exact moment.

— Jessica Magnuson, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Coon Rapids, MN

My clients work out their healing by confronting the object of their pain utilizing an empty chair, letters they don't send, somatic movement, psychodrama, and other techniques to actively re-engage in the wounding experience but this time with greater resources and support, resulting in the completion of the emotional cycle and release of the stuck emotions.

— Laurie Cape, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in ,

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

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

Experiential therapy offers exercises designed to improve self-awareness, as well as to discover underlying emotions and unconscious beliefs that can better come to the forefront when experienced versus purely thinking about or talking about. It allows for an externalized experience which creates improved understanding for clients, which can then lead to change.

— Greyson Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Colorado Springs, CO

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

Talk therapy is the primary method of my counseling work. However, I maintain that there are "multiple ways to the same goal". We might talk about the content to see if that gets us there. We might also write about it, draw about it, walk about it (internet and tele-space willing*), close our eyes and meditate on it.

— Joey Salvatore, Counselor in Bethesda, MD

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

I was introduced to the radical immediate effectiveness of Experiential, Here and Now Therapy through the writings of Fritz Perls and the work of some of his students with whom I studied and trained in the early 1970's. Experiential Therapy simply means bringing awareness and attention to your experience in the present moment, as it unfolds, with the guidance and support of a skilled therapist, and reporting what you discover. It can be an effective path to healing.

— Peter Carpentieri SEP, LMFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

Need to get out of your head and into your emotions? Problems are rooted in the suppression of feelings, rigidity, denial of impulses, lack of awareness, emotional deadness, and overuse of defense mechanisms. In experiential therapy, we can be open and spontaneous as this is a very active therapy modality. To change, we are going to change your experiences.

— Roxcy Brown, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

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