Experiential Therapy

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Experiential therapies

Treatment of behavioral health disorders works when the underlying causes are resolved. But identifying those causes often requires many different approaches because of the complexity of the human mind.

For example, after experiencing trauma, people often suppress painful memories so that they can continue to function, reducing conscious recall over time. But such unconscious memories can still have very powerful influence over present-time conscious behavior and mental health. Experiential therapies are meant to help deal with problems like these.

So what is experiential therapy? The primary goal of experiential therapy is to bring forth unconscious self-expression. According to the American Society for Experiential Therapists, experiential therapy allows one to fill in cognitive and emotional gaps in memory. By processing memories in a supportive and therapeutic environment, painful thoughts and feelings can be reconciled. Only then can healthy perceptions about the past, present and future fully develop.

Many different experiential therapy techniques exist, and behavioral health care centers vary in this regard. At Sovereign Health of Arizona, we individualize our experiential therapies according to individual patient interests and needs. Some of the experiential therapy activities Sovereign Health of Arizona offers include equine, expressive arts, yoga and recreational therapy.

Equine therapy

Equine therapy is an evidence-based form of experiential therapy that has been shown to be both effective and enjoyable for our patient population. Working directly with horses and forming relationships with them over the course of treatment helps patients improve relationship skills, such as trust, nonverbal communication, and healthy boundary-setting. Women learn to be more mindful of their own behavior while being aware of the behavioral cues of others.

Expressive arts

Women recovering from trauma and addiction often need help to re-learn healthy ways to express themselves. Expressive arts therapy gives patients an opportunity to express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings with others. The expressive arts include many different approaches, such as art, music, dance, psychodrama, and bibliotherapy.


Any form of exercise is healthy, and yoga is similar to dance and expressive movement in that it offers many of the same physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. Yoga consists of a combination of postures, breathing and mindfulness techniques which lead to better sleep and energy levels, muscle tone, flexibility, blood flow and heart rate. Neuroscientific studies have shown yoga to increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in stress, addiction, anxiety and depression.

Yoga includes meditation, breathing exercises and postures, practiced to improve health and promote relaxation. The various techniques and philosophies of yoga have been practiced for many reasons, ranging from improving flexibility and muscle endurance to gaining focus and peace of mind. Another benefit to learning yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere, alone or with others.

Recreational therapy

Remembering how to have fun is particularly important for those who are recovering from trauma, addiction or other mental health conditions. Recreational therapy reminds those in recovery to healthy activities they once enjoyed and introduces them to new experience as well. Recreational therapy at Sovereign Health of Arizona is geared toward women in recovery, although individual patient preferences are incorporated into the schedule. Onsite activities and outings aim to bring about maximum laughter, enjoyment and a newfound sense of happiness in recovery.

Sovereign Health of Arizona

Sovereign Health of Arizona is a leader in the treatment of women who have survived trauma and abuse, and of those with drug and alcohol use disorders and co-occurring conditions.  We specialize in restoring physical and mental health, resolving underlying disorders and initiating healthy lifestyle habits through effective treatment methods including experiential therapy activities that support lasting recovery. Sovereign Health’s Chandler center accepts most major health insurance plans and financing options are available through MyTreatmentLender.

To learn more about our experiential therapies or any of our specialized programs for women, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak with a member of our admissions team.

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