Experiential Therapy


Drastic times call for drastic measures, and the time one sees an individual in the throes of substance abuse is always a drastic time.  There are many factors that can push a person to abuse drugs, and these will vary depending on temperament, environment, and the manner in which that person copes with problems.  At times, when a person becomes heavily dependent on drugs or alcohol, simply talking or convincing him or her to get treatment will not suffice.  Therapists employ a method called experiential therapy for addicts that can’t seem to kick the habit.

Experiential therapy involves talk therapy that attempts to make the unconscious become conscious.  It helps addicts realize their deepest and most hidden emotions, eventually teaching them how to make use of these productively.  Although experiential therapy involves talking and discussion, it is more focused on experience since it holds the belief that this provides a deeper level of knowing.  A deeper, and better, knowledge of one’s needs and motivations helps addicts make better choices by themselves.  It teaches them how to react productively to certain challenges they might face and teaches them a pattern of behavior in response to everyday problems.

Addicts undergoing experiential therapy are usually put in situations recreating past painful or traumatic experiences in which they are assisted by their therapist so these experiences can be transformed into bite-sized pieces they can manage.  People cope with distress in a variety of ways, and this is one way in which therapists help addicts to compartmentalize and manage their experiences and emotions, however intense they may be.

In the end, the change must come from the addict and not from the therapist or some other person.  The addict’s loved ones can provide the necessary support an understanding, but it has to stop there because, as the cliché goes, one must help himself or herself before anyone else can.