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What Is Experiential Therapy? Is It For Teens?

What Is Experiential Therapy? Is It For Teens?

Experiential therapy, as explained by Psychology Today “is a therapeutic technique that uses expressive tools and activities, such as role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery, or various forms of recreation to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships.” Through experiential therapy a teenager will be able to explore and release negative emotions, stress, and/ or shame associated with situations that may have been blocked or denied. The goal of experiential therapy is to provide a young person with the opportunity to re-visit particular moments or emotions, in a safe and relatively controlled environment. The re-experience process helps a teen process their emotions and thoughts in a healthier manner. Much like its name suggests, experiential therapy is distinguished by its emphasis on action. 

Who Is It Aimed At?

Experiential therapy can be used to treat a variety of issues. It can provide positive health outcomes for teens struggling with, but not limited to, the following mental health disorders, issues, or symptoms:

  • Destructive anger
  • Anxiety
  • Communication issues
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Depression
  • Family conflict
  • Grief
  • Physical or psychological trauma
  • Eating disorders 
  • Phobias
  • Self-harm
  • Substance use disorder 
  • Behavioral disorders

Experiential therapy is generally not an appropriate method of treatment for teens who experience symptoms of psychosis, are cognitively impaired, or are unable to participate in the therapy.

What Are the Benefits of Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapy can help a teen gain awareness and insight into the nature of their experiences, feelings, inner thoughts, interactions, and needs. An adolescent can experience a variety of benefits from experiential therapy, some of which may include the following examples provided by Verywell Mind:

  • Handle fears, obstacles, and stressors more effectively
  • Appreciate the value of grit and perseverance
  • Build self-confidence
  • Enhance communication and problem-solving skills
  • Focus on the present
  • Gain a greater understanding of how choices impact others
  • Better understand personal conflicts and relationships
  • Manage feelings of anxiety, depression, or hopelessness
  • Develop and achieve goals
  • Make better choices that are aligned with one’s needs and values
  • Take personal responsibility in and for their life
  • Discover personal desires, emotions, motivations, and needs

It is important to note that experiential therapy is fundamentally immersive and can be very intense. Every teenager is different, and while experiential therapy may be helpful for some, this therapeutic method may not be effective for everyone and will not necessarily resonate with every teen. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at info@pacificrtc.com.

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