experiential learning
Photo Credit: flickr user – dotbenjamin

Clients grow and learn by doing, not talking about doing. Tell your teen that it is dangerous to ride a skateboard without pads, and they will continue to ignore you until they come running home with a broken arm. In order to truly learn and believe something, your son or daughter has to learn from experience. So why in therapy do we make teens sit down and talk to authority figures they do not know and often do not trust? How likely are they to open up, getting to the core issues and then actually make changes based on those talks? Experiential learning offers a new & unconventional way to grow.

Experiential learning offers another option

Instead of traditional therapy, experiential learning offers patients a new way to learn and grow. By using role-plays, actions and activities to help teens overcome emotional, mental and social struggles, teens experience in-the-moment therapy that is easier to translate to other situations.

Developed in the 1970s, experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach that encourages patients to identify and address hidden or subconscious issues through activities such as role playing, guided imagery, the use of props and a range of other active experiences. – Michael Hurst

Either during or after the experience, the therapist will help the patient evaluate their reactions and thoughts. By identifying both correct and inappropriate behaviors promptly, the teen is more likely to understand what they need to continue or correct. As they’ve already had one experience to guide them, they are more likely to make changes when a similar challenge arises.

Wilderness therapy revolves around experiential learning

On a daily basis at a wilderness therapy program, students face challenges and adventures that allow in the moment learning of new behaviors, actions and thought processes.
Some examples of experiential learning that blueFire uses include:

  • Equine therapy
  • Wilderness adventures
  • Learning life skills (starting a fire, making a meal, etc.)
  • Recreation therapy
  • Team skill-building

Getting to a deeper level of treatment

It is easier for a teenager to control what he says or the amount of personal information he shares in traditional therapy. Therapists often have difficulty breaking down barriers the patient puts up.
Whereas, experiential learning provides real life experiences that give our staff unbiased insight into how the teen deals with challenges and what emotional struggles they may be having. When the teens are not focused on the therapy itself and genuinely react to their environment, the staff gets a clearer picture of the child’s needs.Experiential therapy helps teens to build self-confidence, identify areas to improve on, and increase social skills.
To help your child best grow, call blueFire at 844-413-1999 and ask about experiential learning.


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