Despite the various efforts by law enforcement and the government to curb the prevalence of drug use in the US, figures are still at an alarmingly high rate. A 2022 report from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics lists more than 37 million Americans aged 12 years and up as being illegal drug users. To this end, the preventive efforts are only equaled by the curative methods being employed to help those with a substance abuse disorder, such as experiential therapy for addiction treatment.
What is Experiential Therapy?
Giving treatment, however, is not enough. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says at least 40% to 60% of people with a substance abuse disorder who have undergone rehabilitation will go into relapse sometime after treatment. This is mostly due to the fact that the treatment given to the patient was not as effective as it was initially thought to be. There are many cases where the patient appears to be responding well to treatment during the beginning of therapy, and then begin to lose the drive, enthusiasm, or willingness to engage in it fully later on.
There is a need for constant evaluation to determine if a treatment approach continues to yield the desired results. It should be noted that many people don’t always respond well to monotony and repetitive activities, which is why approaches like experiential therapy could work well where other forms might have failed. Experiential psychotherapy provides the patient with a physical, hands-on activity or experience that provides interactive opportunities for the patient to engage with their therapist in a much better way. There are many who find it difficult to express deep emotions or painful times in their lives that are relevant to their substance abuse.
Most forms of traditional therapy have a focus on talking, primarily to bring out thoughts and feelings so as to get them off the chest of the patient. Experiential therapy, meanwhile, puts an emphasis on action. As such, this treatment allows the patient to engage both their body and mind. Therapists believe this is immensely helpful as it allows the patient to access psychological elements that they could not access before. Action has always been seen as the primary precursor to change, and related to therapy and rehabilitation, this is the portion of their treatment that brings about the change in their thinking and behavior that is aimed at getting better.
What are the Goals of Experiential Therapy?
Experiential therapy is an evidence-based approach to rehabilitation that seeks to immerse the patient in activities that are designed with specific goals in line with addiction treatment. These goals include: