Why Do We Do Experiential Therapy?
Experience is one of the greatest ways to facilitate therapeutic change. Experiential therapy revolves around the client being an active participant in the therapeutic process. Rather than the traditional “talk therapy,” the client is involved in actions, movements, and activities. These activities can include things such as equine therapy, arts therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy, and wilderness therapy.
Here at New Haven, we use experiential therapy to focus on three main areas: service, leisure education, and bonding/initiative type activities. These activities give students and families the opportunity to develop life skills in areas such as relationships, communication, teamwork, self-esteem, self-awareness, accountability, and responsibility. By involving students and their families in experiential therapy, it allows them to think about old problems in new ways.
One of our values at New Haven is family. An adolescent girl’s most important support system is her family. We partner with families to nurture attachment, growth, and healing. Experiential therapy is frequently used as a way to facilitate lasting change in students and families.
One major way we use experiential therapy to empower a lasting change in families is during our annual river trip. The river trip allows families to escape the pressures and distractions of everyday life and refocus their efforts on building memorable and meaningful experiences together.
Studies have shown that families and children are spending less and less time outdoors. This nature deficit results in a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems, which in turn can negatively affect family dynamics. During the river trip, our clinical team provides opportunities for families to experience nature together by going rafting on the Green River, learning more about Native American culture, and various other experiential activities. By providing families the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time in nature, they are given a chance to reconnect and mend broken relationships.
As part of our clinical and management philosophy at New Haven, we believe in giving students and their families a systemic foundation to harness the strength and beauty of relationships for working through challenges, healing the hurt and trauma of relationships, and crystallizing the love and support of family relations. Experiential therapy is a major component in healing families and giving them a strong foundation for the future.
-Tara Draney, RT Intern