At Ascend, we take a clinical approach to our treatment plans, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy among our therapeutic modalities. But we also incorporate experiential therapy as a complementary approach that provides more comprehensive treatment options to our clients.
Experiential therapy, also sometimes called experiential learning, is a type of therapy that uses hands-on activities to help participants process their emotions and learn new skills. This type of therapy can be used to help people of all ages, but it is often used with teens because it can be a more engaging and active form of therapy than traditional talk therapy options. Experiential therapy activities can vary widely, but some common examples include outdoor activities, creative hobbies, puzzles and games, and group roleplay.
What to Expect in Experiential Therapy Sessions
During a typical experiential learning session, our clients are asked to engage in activities that are designed to help them address mental health concerns and find an emotional outlet in a safe, enjoyable, and less rigid space. These activities can be anything from hiking to playing board games. The group facilitator leading the session provides guidance and support throughout, making notes for clinicians and redirecting unhealthy behaviors.
Some of the activities we provide at Ascend include:
- Dance Therapy – This is an empowerment-focused experiential therapy for teens that strives to approach trauma recovery through expressive dance. We strive to provide a physical and spiritual emotional outlet through movement for trauma survivors.
- Storytelling – We ask clients to lead us through an appropriate narrative that illustrates a complex issue they might be facing. This experiential therapy activity teaches them emotional regulation in a small group setting and asks them to apply similar skills to concerns in their own lives.
- Rock to Recovery – When clients struggle with executive function, they might not be able to focus or follow instructions. Even handling strong emotions can be tough. Rock to Recovery utilizes creative writing and musical instruments to write, perform, and record songs about recovery for the purpose of encouraging self-expression and music as healthy coping mechanisms, increasing measures of wellness such as self-esteem, hope, joy, and eradicating cravings, acting as a cathartic channel.
- STEM Group – In this experiential therapy session, we encourage clients to explore electrical and computer engineering topics, allowing them to rediscover preferred activities, experience behavior activation, and help clients develop a sense of mastery over their projects.
- Boxing – A recovery-based fitness group that demonstrates the connection between physical activity and recovery benefits. This is a guided activity that provides emotional and mental benefits that can become a vital tool for recovery.
- Cooking – Life skills ensure adaptive and positive behavior that enable clients to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. Clients learn how nutrition affects them physically and mentally, how to handle food safely, and how to cook healthy meals.
- Dungeons & Dragons – In this group roleplaying game and collaborative story-telling adventure, clients use their problem-solving skills and cognitive-behavioral intervention to improve their ability to confront stressful experiences.
We also offer many other experiential therapy activities, such as hiking, painting, gardening, and yoga, so that every client can find a therapeutic experience that speaks to them.
Reach Out to Ascend to Learn More
As you can see, there are many benefits to experiential therapy for teens – from learning essential life skills to finding a life-long passion. These experiential therapy sessions are a critical component of our treatment plans, along with family therapy and one-on-one talk therapy.