Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is a term that encompasses a number of therapeutic techniques that require engaging in some type of activity or action.  Everything from equine assisted psychotherapy to art therapy to psychodrama is considered experiential therapy. Despite the different approaches, most experiential therapy techniques will use tools and activities to recreate situations from past and current relationships, in an effort to identify the emotions that arise. With the guidance of a professional experiential therapist, the client can explore these feelings and begin to release these feelings. Individuals who have been through trauma, are dealing with an eating or behavioral disorder, working through anger or grief issues, as well as various addictions can benefit from experiential therapy. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s experiential therapy experts today.

Meet the specialists

I understand that connection and aliveness is something we experience in the body. In my sessions, we don't just talk about problems; we learn how to have different emotional, cognitive, and physiologic experiences. Therapy provides a safe space to experiment with new ways of being, both individually and with partners.

— Hayden Lindsey, Counselor in Austin, TX

Change, emotional growth, and personal empowerment are all among the benefits of participating in an effective experiential therapy program. Because experiential therapy patients are often focused on the task or activity at hand — rather than on the therapeutic aspect of the experience — they are more likely to behave in a more unguarded and genuine manner.

— Kira Hayes, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Newark, OH

Psychotherapy is one human being connecting with another in a caring, empathic, supportive relationship. As persons we grow when these conditions are present, and I strive to provide them. I like the term 'experiential' because this kind of therapy takes you into your heart and your experience. Change and growth happen when we can process our experiences, feel heard, and learn to trust ourselves more.

— Brent Sweitzer, Counselor in Cumming, GA

Therapy focused on the here and now. We will focus beyond your verbal experience, what your body is communicating to you and others through body language and somatic feeling (meaning what sensations and information the five senses are giving you about your experience). Sometimes this includes therapy interventions that are not as verbally-based, creating an experience or a roundabout way to getting to deeper feeling and emotions below the surface of what is discussed in conversation.

— George Goldston, Counselor in Beaverton, OR

My style is "here-and-now", using the therapeutic relationship to give you a transformative experience of feeling seen and understood for who you really are. This is the foundation of change that has a ripple effect into the rest of your life, transforming your relationships.

— Carolyn Moore, Counselor in San Francisco, CA

At RISE we utilize a variery of different experiential therapeutic techniques in individual, family, relational, group, and in our Holistic Trauma Program. Movement, Music, Nature, Somatic Exercises, Psychodrama, Team Building, Self Empowerment, art therapy, creative and self expression, and a variety of other therapeutic techniques depending on the clients needs.

— Bet Shaddinger, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Fort Lauderdale, FL

all healing happens in the here and now. one has to experience the feelings, emotions, thoughts, behavior that one is seeking or that one is trying to avoid in order to embody and transcend it. i use experiential therapy through play, sand-trays, art, nature walks, role plays and many other interventions. my clients love these modalities and enjoy their experiences.

— Meenal Chaudhari, Counselor in Downtown Saratoga, CA

When appropriate, I use experiential exercises into sessions. Examples are roles plays, visualizations, guided imagery. These are used to assist a person in going deeper into an experience and to bring it more to life to enable them to work through it rather than talk about it and around it, which generally does NOT lead to healing. In relationships, it deepens connection with oneself and with others.

— Laura Carr, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

Differently than with traditional talk therapy, our sessions will be dynamic! Bringing movement into sessions creates an energy that facilitates true and deep-seated growth in your life. You not only will mindfully understand the emotions that movement is bringing up for you, but will be able to apply these new awarenesses to your life in valuable and meaningful ways.

— Erin Howe MA, BC-DMT, CRM, Therapist in Oceanside, CA

I attempt to help clients connect with their emotions and learn to verbalize them in the here and now as we work through processing identified reasons for seeking treatment.

— Melanie Gonzalez, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Irvine, CA

Facilitates group activities that are experiential.

— Forest Benedict, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

I believe in the power of movement in nature to assist in healing and growth. Through walk and talk therapy clients get the opportunity to engage in therapy in a different way that is less intimidating than in an office setting. Physical activity has numerous benefits on mental health in addition to physical health. Time in nature and disconnecting from electronics and the "inside world", allows for greater sense of presence and increased renewal.

— Valerie Fahie, Counselor in Doylestown, PA

Jodi's education in Contemplative Psychotherapy as well as her further training in body-centered Play Therapy and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy combines with her personal study of movement practices and expressive arts to create a perfect atmosphere for experiential therapy...beyond just talk.

— Jodi Alieksaites, Licensed Professional Counselor in Boulder, CO

At RISE we utilize a variety of experiential techniques in all of our OP services. Movement, music, creative and self expression, Psychodrama, nature therapy, Somatic Exercises, and art therapy are only a few of the experiential services we offer. Because we believe in the power of the human experience in learning and healing, we find these therapeutic techniques essential for personal growth and healing.

— Bet Shaddinger, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Fort Lauderdale, FL

In Experiential Therapy, the client connects to their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors through short enactments. These enactments include guided imagery, empty chair work, psychodrama work, somatic therapy, and mindfulness practices. I believe in the power of the body and your inner world as a tool for connecting to your strengths and resources to transcend your pain.

— Kaile Videtich, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in San Jose, CA

My clinical work to date has involved the use of Experiential Therapy which focuses on acceptance, emotional expression, self-esteem, and the varying ways families can get caught up in cycles of dysfunction. You will be fully accepted where you are, right now, today.

— Cindy Purifoy, Marriage & Family Therapist in Overland Park, KS

Virgina Satir was a boss. She emphasized how clients needed to identify and process their emotions by verbalizing them in the moment. With Experiential interventions, we will work on developing your ability to name your emotions and the thoughts underlying them. We will do writing interventions and "replays" where we review triggering incidents from your past to help you bring a connection between what you are feeling, saying, and doing.

— Marissa Esquibel, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Claremont, CA

Whether talking about what happened yesterday or in your family growing up, we will work with what you experience in the moment as you explore. That way the work is fresh, not a stale re-hashing of an old, stuck story. Using basic building blocks of gentle curiosity, compassion and honoring both what shows up as well as resistance to what shows up, deep transformation happens.

— Grace Silvia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

Experiential therapy is one of the most powerful modalities in family therapy because it is based on the present moment and living the current experience. I received training during my master's program and was provided hands-on learning with this therapy. While it is mainly a family therapy modality, I have found it beneficial in all types of therapy to include individual, couples and group.

— Hiliary Beatty, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Spokane, WA

As an artist, I often view therapy through the eye of a creative and believe in flexible, spontaneous, emotionally expressive modalities and techniques which promote these qualities. I was taught this modality in graduate school and found it to be comfortable and natural to me. I often use dramatic or art based experiential techniques with clients who have difficulty verbalizing long suppressed emotions.

— Lucinda Wurtz, Counselor in Spokane, WA