Our Teen Experiential Therapy program at Paradigm San Francisco is a treatment that incorporates activities, actions, and movements for therapeutic purposes, and is less focused on direct talk-based interaction. Some of the experiential therapies we offer include: Drama Therapy, Recreation Therapy, Music Therapy, and Equine Therapy. There are a number of different benefits to Experiential Therapy, including allowing teens to benefit from a fresh therapeutic setting and context. Within these therapeutic activities, teens are often able to engage naturally, feeling less pressure or resistance than they might within more direct, talk-therapy based sessions. This provides wonderful opportunities for therapists to gain insights and for teens to access important spaces within themselves.
At Paradigm San Francisco, we incorporate Teen Experiential Therapy in conjunction with teens’ daily individual talk-therapy sessions. We find that these sessions provide an excellent supplement, in helping teens to think and engage in new, unique ways. Teens tend to greatly enjoy these sessions and find them to be refreshing and fun, which often allows them to approach them with openness. This sincere interest and engagement is very important in the residential treatment setting, in which we’re trying to make every day meaningful and important. In order to accomplish this, we’ve found that keeping teens engaged in an array of therapeutic offerings is very successful.
Our Experiential Therapy programs are led by mental health professionals who are licensed in their particular fields. Therefore, the therapists are able to design the therapeutic sessions in very intentional, precise ways, such that teens are afforded the greatest possible opportunity for meaningful experiences. Whether teens might be performing a play, creating music, or working with horses, the therapists guide the sessions in such a way that the teens not only get to engage in a particular activity or skill, but also have opportunities to reflect on themselves, on their time in therapy, on their habits, and more. The subtle and yet powerful nature of this kind of self-discovery is incredibly valuable during this time of healing, recovery, and growth.
We also find that the Experiential Therapy programs are a welcomed experience for teens that have been in therapy for a long time and/or who may be treatment resistant. Because teenagers can be turned off by previous therapy attempts, providing a new type of therapeutic activity that feels authentic to them can help them to soften defenses and engage authentically again. These therapy programs also provide a great opportunity for teens simply to enjoy themselves and each other, as they get to take part in what are often new experiences for all of them. As we work with teens at Paradigm San Francisco to address old habits and behaviors, we also believe it’s important to help them discover and incorporate new, positive activities into their lives. This is a great opportunity for teens to endeavor some of these new activities.