Understanding the role of experiential therapies in addiction treatment

Understanding the role of experiential therapies in addiction treatment

In one’s lifetime, a person undergoes many negative and positive experiences. Some people learn to cope with the negative influences and emerge victorious while others find coping mechanisms to deal with everyday stress. Alcohol and drugs seem to be some of the easiest options to relax the mind.

Substance abuse might leave an indelible mark on someone’s personality. In addition, one might also be harboring feelings of sadness and hopelessness, suffering from painful memories, or reeling under the burden of unresolved conflicts and strained relationships. Sometimes, the conventional talk therapy might not help a person to give vent to his or her pent-up emotions.

In such a situation, experiential therapy can meaningfully engage a person and channelize negative energy, improve problem-solving skills and bring behavioral changes. In the process, it resolves the emotional turmoil. Experiential therapy has found an established role in addiction therapy as it allows a person to understand his/her negative sides, which greatly helps in finding new paths and improving treatment outcomes.

One can practice different types of experiential therapy activities to develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Some of these are discussed below:

Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP)

As the name suggests, EAP involves the use of horses for patient engagement. Horses are selfless and offer unconditional love, something which substance abuse patients do not get to experience for a very long time. The patients do not ride horses; rather they feed, groom and take care of the horses. Through these therapeutic tasks; they develop an understanding of the self-defeating traits and other issues. EAP is commonly used for treating eating disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs).

Adventure therapy

To stay fit, the body needs nutritious food and physical activity. In recreational therapy, the patients are encouraged to indulge in adventure activities such as hiking, climbing, boating, rock climbing, etc. These activities help a patient in developing advanced problem-solving skills and self-awareness, realizing personal responsibilities and working as a team. For patients, these activities are like real-life challenges, motivating them to conquer them.


Yoga is a 3000-year-old practice and recognized as a holistic approach to overall well-being. Emerging body of literature has established it as a powerful technique that provides immense benefits, such as flexibility in body and peace for the mind, alleviation of stress and anxiety, healing of chronic pain, improved sleeping patterns and enhancement of the overall quality of life.

Art and music therapy

The use of art and music therapy help a person to integrate mind with the body and give expression to the deeply seated thought processes. Creative pursuits help a person to recover from painful memories, resuscitate self-esteem and improve interpersonal skills.

Victims of trauma, or sexual or physical abuse, and those addicted to alcohol and drugs can immensely benefit from such therapies as they lead to reduction in aggressive and destructive behaviors, improvement in self-confidence, healthier body image, improvement in mood, better trust-building and decision-making skills and improved focus and attention.

Road to recovery

Addiction to any drugs, whether prescription painkillers or illicit ones, leads to strained personal and social relationships, poor productivity at work or in college, psychological and physiological health complications, suicidal thoughts and risk of untimely death. Experiential therapy can help a person find joys and purpose in small things in life and focus on the present moment. Patients of chronic pain who depend upon painkillers to get relief can make improvement with daily exercise and meditation. However, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist if the problems ensuing from substance abuse aggravate, because delaying the matter will worsen the situation.

If you or someone you know is addicted to any form of prescription drugs, the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California can assist you in finding the best drug treatment center in California where recovery is facilitated in a serene and compassionate environment. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online with one of our representatives who can assist you with complete information about the best rehab centers in California.

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