For some recovering addicts, the idea of sitting passively in a therapist’s office and discussing their feelings is tantamount to torture. Experiential therapy, originally developed in the 1970s, endeavors to conquer this problem. It does so by offering patients a chance to directly address the challenges they face rather than just talking about them. Experiential therapy services in Boise are not a single type of therapy. Instead, they are a group of addiction therapy approaches. This makes it extremely important to choose skilled therapists who know what they’re doing.
Basics of Experiential Therapy Services
As the name implies, experiential therapy helps patients experience their emotions and challenges rather than just talking about them. The therapy also allows the therapist to observe the patient in their “natural” environment. For instance, a patient with difficulty in social situations might act out a typical conversation. Observing patients as they do so enables the therapist to better identify – and treat – potential challenges that might not otherwise come out within the walls of therapy.
Unlike some other forms of therapy, experiential therapy is not formulaic. Thus one therapist’s approach might look very different from another’s approach. Ultimately, it’s up to the therapist to decide what sorts of experiences might best benefit a patient. However, common themes include:
- Doing something the patient enjoys, such as sports or horseback riding, while engaged in traditional talk therapy.
- Acting out a conflict the patient frequently experiences. This can be a conflict with a specific person or a more generalized conflict, such as the conflict between pleasing others and living one’s own life.
- Taking on the role of another person or having the therapist take on the role of someone in the patient’s life.
- Re-living the emotions associated with a previous event. For instance, a patient who struggles with performance anxiety might be asked to recall a challenging performance then share her emotions.
In most cases, experiential therapy blends elements of other, more traditional approaches to therapy. For example, it’s not uncommon to find experiential therapists who also practice cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The Effectiveness of an Experiential Therapy Program in Boise
Research into the effectiveness of experiential therapy is mixed. That’s true, in part, because it’s inherently challenging to test its results. Since there’s no one way to practice the therapy, therapists vary greatly in approach and effectiveness. Consequently, it’s hard to devise well-controlled studies to test this approach to mental health treatment.
In general, research suggests that an experiential therapy program in Boise can be highly effective in certain circumstances. Specifically, this can happen when experiences are used properly and occur within the context of research-backed approaches to therapy. Examples of such approaches include interpersonal therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some research suggests that experiential therapy is a better option for certain patients. That includes children, people with intellectual disabilities, and those who feel uncomfortable discussing their feelings in more direct ways.
Good experiential therapists carefully evaluate their patients and get to know them before exploring experiential approaches. Some experiences can be painful or even damaging without proper preparation. For this reason, one of the key predictors of success is your therapist’s ability to read your emotions, predict what might help, and implement clear strategies for success.
Experiential Therapy and Rehab
Experiential therapy and rehab for addiction can be a beneficial pairing. Combined with other treatment options, it can help you ground yourself in your present reality. It may also increase your willingness to drop your guard and actively engage in your treatment.
Choosing a Therapist for Experiential Therapy in Boise
Regardless of the form of experiential therapy you receive, it’s important to keep one thing in mind. The single biggest predictor of therapy’s success is a strong and trusting relationship between you and your therapist. Thus it’s important to do your homework and ask plenty of questions. If you’re in rehab and a therapist is assigned to you, don’t be afraid to speak up if therapy is not working. If you’re tasked with choosing your therapist, consider asking the following questions to ensure you get the best possible therapist for your needs:
- How long have you practiced experiential therapy?
- Are you a licensed therapist? Can I see your license?
- Have you ever been disciplined by a professional board?
- Am I a good candidate for experiential therapy?
- Do you use any other approaches to therapy?
- How do you decide which experiences are appropriate to have at what times?
- What happens if an experience is upsetting or traumatic for me?
- If therapy doesn’t work, what will we do?
- How will I know I am making progress?
- How will we determine if you and I are a good fit to work together?
The answers you receive from a skilled provider of experiential therapy in Boise should help put you at ease.
Seek Experiential Therapy Services at Northpoint Recovery
At Northpoint Recovery, we offer experiential therapy services among our many treatment options. Our customized approach helps ensure that this therapy fits in well with other aspects of your care. In this way, we strive to maximize the benefits of your time in substance rehab. For more information on how we can help, call us today at 208.486.0130.