Teen Experiential Therapy is a treatment category that involves movements, activities, and actions, as opposed to more traditional talk-based therapy approaches. Some teen experiential therapies that we offer at Paradigm Malibu include: Equine Therapy, Drama Therapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, and Recreation Therapy. One of the main goals and advantages of Experiential Therapy, especially for adolescents, is the opportunity to get teens out of the office treatment setting, so that they can engage freely, without being overly aware of the therapy itself. Similarly, getting teens to engage in a more natural setting also allows for therapists to observe behaviors and tendencies, which can provide great insight toward designing and implementing treatment plans.
Though every type of treatment is different for each individual teen, there are a number of benefits of incorporating Experiential Therapy in our Teen Treatment programs here at Paradigm. Just a few of the benefits that Experiential Therapy provides are: it encourages teens to open up and engage, it provides an enjoyable, educational experience, and it helps teens learn about what they need and want.
First of all, our Experiential Therapy programs are always offered in conjunction with our other more traditional, talk-based therapies, which adolescents engage in every day. We find that providing teens with different treatment settings and opportunities helps the treatment process to stay fresh and unique each day, which also helps them to engage more fully and willingly in the process. Because the activities involved with our Experiential Therapy programs are often so enjoyable for adolescents, they are able to soften and open up to the experience, which is especially helpful in cases where the teens have undergone consistent treatment and/or have had negative experiences related to treatment, in the past.
Secondly, the Experiential Therapy programs very intentionally and precisely engage the teenagers in the activity at hand. Whether it be working with a horse, performing a play, or creating a piece of art, the teens engage in the process which allows them to not only learn a skill, but learn about themselves in the process. This tends to be a very gentle and yet powerful time of self-reflection for teenagers, who often feel hesitant or afraid to open up fully, for fear of being judged or misunderstood. Many times, these teen experiential therapies allow teens a chance to gain insight into themselves which will become crucial to their overall treatment and recovery.
Lastly, one of the most valuable things that teenagers can gain from Experiential Treatment is an awareness of and education about what they enjoy and how to add positive experiences into their own lives. Because we believe in a holistic-minded approach to treatment that addresses the whole being, we not only view treatment as the removal of problems or difficulties, but also, the addition of positive experiences and joys. It can be truly transformational when a teenager begins to learn not only how to avoid certain negative triggers and/or behaviors they’ve become accustomed to, but furthermore, what makes them happy and motivates them. In getting to spend time outdoors, with animals, being creative, and essentially having fun, during these Experiential Treatment sessions, teens have the chance to remember- even if just for a moment- what it’s like to feel good, and how to work toward feeling good every day, one day at a time.