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

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

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

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

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

Trauma and emotion focused trained therapist in the line of thought offered by Dr. Diane Poole Heller, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. Joan Borysenko and more. I am a clinical hypnotherapist versed in Ericksonian hypnosis, CBT hypnosis (Yapko), chronic pain hypnosis (as researched by Jensen and Patterson) and evidenced based IBS hypnosis (Palsson). I studied under a number of hypnotherapy trainers; most notably, Dr. Michael Yapko.

— Lori Olson, Counselor in Tallahassee, FL

Experiential therapy is just a fancy term for being active while doing therapy. This can be beneficial for those who have trouble just sitting on the couch and talking to a therapist.

— Stacy Stegeman, Therapist in Columbia, MO

Experiential therapy is all about "learning by doing", so having an experience in therapy as opposed to just talking about it. I have had 5+ years of experience in experiential therapy.

— Nastasia Zibrat, Creative Art Therapist in Centennial, 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

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

I utilize several techniques, or ways of approaching change, by creating an atmosphere in session that will foster healing and growth. This may look like allowing emotions to show up in the space we share in session and using that to create a deeper understanding of walking in your shoes and moving through these stories that you may carry with you.

— Chelze Zamani, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Placentia, CA

Once we understand how the trauma is affecting you today we can do a deeper piece of work. Experiential therapy creates an internal shift and is more effective than just talk therapy alone. It breaks through unconscious resistances and gets to the root of the underlying traumas. By depicting your inner world visually through inner child work, Gestalt empty chair techniques, psychodrama techniques etc, you will experience new insights, release emotions, and new healthy beliefs about self emerge.

— Leanne Lemire, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Carefree, AZ

We create simple Experiments from IN REAL LIFE situations and step into the LAB where we SLOW DOWN to observe what happens INTERNALLY when you think certain thoughts or interact with specific others. We work with what happens for you when sh*t happens-- in work, family, friendships, intimate relationships. Experiments add an enhanced dimension to talk therapy, making it more impactful and easier to note and reflect upon between sessions, supporting personal growth.

— Randi Kofsky, Marriage & Family Therapist in Playa Del Rey, CA

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

I have engaged individuals and family's in experiential treatment utilizing role plays, enactments, and in the moment interactive interventions to address the desired needs. For example rather than a couple explaining a conversation we role play the significant situation and then provide in the moment feedback based off of each person's statements. We will then attempt the new skills in therapy to practice.

— Jasmine Colegrove, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Charlotte, NC

I believe in and have trained in experiential therapies because they have the power to connect us to difficult, often repressed emotions that can be challenging to access through talk therapy alone. We will use a variety of creative avenues to achieve the goal of recovery from trauma and addiction.

— Melissa McCurry, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Raleigh, NC

I offer a warm and direct approach to connect with my clients in the here and now, accepting their experiences as valid and true.

— Tristan Martin, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Manlius, NY

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, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Grand Rapids, MI

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

Experiential therapists believe we need new experiences to heal from past experiences, especially when those past experiences have gotten stuck and unprocessed. Experiential therapy refers to treatment approaches that are more interactive, such as sand tray, art, music re-enactments, and others.

— Morgan Ticum, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Lenexa, KS

We often work to sever our body/mind connection in order to protect ourselves from painful emotions that live in the body. I believe reconnecting ourselves to our bodies has incredible healing power. I often use mindfulness techniques to help rebuild this connection.

— Isaac Samuelson, Counselor in Chicago, IL

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

My focus is on the person and their narrative, and the work is based on experiential, humanistic and mindfulness principles. I understand what it means to be human (the "humanity of being human") and this includes looking at emotions, motivations, passions, and thoughts while cultivating mindfulness throughout the process. Mindfulness is the path/key to connecting our response (mind, body spirit, emotion) to what we experience and bringing it to a fuller understanding and integration.

— Neil Beresin, Counselor in Philadelphia, PA

Experiential therapy aims for client's to have real experiences within counseling. This could simply mean to have an experience of your own needs and emotions in the moment. Or it could mean to experience a memory from childhood or to re-enact a conversation that was had that didn't sit right. It can also mean bringing bodily sensation awareness into session. Or being led in a guided meditation or visualization. It can be many things, but in my experience is quite powerful.

— Rebecca Summers, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Austin, TX

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