Do you remember a time in life when you felt enriched by all kinds of experiences? When was the last time you enjoyed a new experience? Do you still long to live a richer life? Addiction has the potential to flatten your lived experiences. Your emotions became blunted, and you lose interest in many old passions. The journey of recovery is to get out of this narrow vision and expand your life. Laguna Shores Recovery Center can guide you through this journey and help you know what to expect with experiential therapy.
The Blunting Effect of Substance Addiction
Experiencing life at its richest is a goal for many people. Some people begin experimenting with alcohol or drugs, thinking that this is a new and exciting thing to try. But long-term dependence on alcohol or drugs can slowly “blunt” your emotional and social life. Living with addiction robs you of some common joys in life. You became trapped in only one activity: getting and using drugs or alcohol.
The blunting process happens because substances change the chemical structures in the brain. Without substances, the reward and self-control circuits of the brain naturally evolve to allow us to go through new experiences. Substances are artificial chemicals that “hijack” these circuits, making people compulsively seek potent rewards through using and reusing.
When substance addiction becomes an unhealthy and dominating lifestyle, people feel numb or empty about new experiences. Hugging loved ones, taking a warm bath, or eating favorite foods no longer give the same satisfaction as these experiences used to. The addicted brain only wants quick stimulation from drugs or alcohol.
The Benefits That Come With Experiential Therapy
During recovery, new experiences can be used as guided therapy. Recovering individuals are led into practical, hands-on activities that get them out of their headspace. By engaging in role-playing, acting, caring for animals, or other forms of relaxation activities, a person begins to expand the width of his or her experiences. Through these experiences, they can explore, process, and identify emotions that had been previously blunted by addiction.
Experiential therapy has long been used to treat certain kinds of psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief, and trauma. People who struggle with painful or traumatic memories need support to get out of the past. Some simple activities in a group setting may temporarily distract them from feeling down. A safe space for exploring new aspects of life happens with experiential therapy.
During experiential therapy sessions, a trained counselor may focus on the recovering individual’s self-awareness and perceptions of what they are experiencing. There will be natural conversations about their emotions and why these emotions occur. It is a strength-based approach to affirm positive feelings, such as self-love, self-forgiveness, being mindful, and being fully present in the moment.
Addiction Recovery Is a Learning, Experiential Process
Experiential therapies work because people learn best through experiencing things. The hands-on activities are well-designed to address key motivational concepts and essential skills. For example, art therapy is a common form of experiential therapy for addiction recovery. A variety of art-making activities are designed to help participants express and process emotions in a non-verbal way. Through visual representations, recovery individuals are led to discuss what the art means to them.
The variety of experiences matters to a person in recovery. The most common types of experiential therapy include art, music, dance, play, drama, craft-making, role-play, gardening, animal-assisted therapy, adventure/nature, yoga, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback therapy. Depending on a recovering individual’s personality and interests, they can pick from this menu and find something they enjoy doing.
Through these different forms of experiential therapy, people may regain confidence in building new relationships with peers in the same cohort. Doing hands-on activities can bond people into sharing and empathy. These treatment methods can be highly effective when combined with other forms of traditional therapy.
With Experiential Therapy Comes Essential Life Skills
Whether through art-making or role-playing, recovering individuals have the chance to learn or strengthen essential life skills, such as communication and time management. Apart from developing self-awareness, they may begin to care for the needs of others. Take animal-assisted therapy for example. When caring for and interacting with animals, recovering individuals may regain a sense of responsibility. In a non-judgmental environment, they may heal from past stigma and guilt.
Experiential therapies are expressive exercises that help people reduce denialism and seek cooperation with others. Engaging in hands-on activities can help them learn how to build trust and problem-solve. All these are very important life skills, not just for stress management and relapse prevention, but also for transitioning to family life and keeping with workplace requirements. Come and work with experts at Laguna Shores Recovery Center.
When recovering individuals venture back into the world with new ideas and problem-solving skills, they can adopt a positive outlook on life and the world around them. Integrating hands-on activities into life ensures a balanced rhythm and an attitude toward learning something new daily. All these are conducive to long-term health and well-being.
Are you looking for a high-quality addiction treatment program that offers a variety of experiential therapies to help increase engagement in treatment and boost motivation? You are right in thinking that experiential therapies help you rebuild a well-rounded life. Besides opening up to meaningful connections in your life, experiential therapies also help solidify the skills and strategies you’re learning in “talk” therapy. If you are looking for a treatment facility with a wide variety of programs, you do not need to look beyond Laguna Shores Recovery Center. Our experts apply treatment methods that promote greater self-awareness. They help you develop the skills and strategies needed to enjoy a successful recovery for a lifetime. Call us today at (866) 774-1532.