Experiential therapies are integrated throughout the Sober College clinical program. Moving young adults out of their comfort zone can create emotional and therapeutic breakthroughs that impact the insight process and arrest negative behavior patterns.
Taking a Unique Approach to Therapy
The experiential portion of our clinical program is strongly skills based combined with a heavy dose of relapse prevention. Young adults in early recovery often struggle to identify the connection between emotions, feelings and physical responses leading to behavioral actions. The experiential process at Sober College enhances our student’s ability to make these critical connections and becomes a training ground for identifiable skills leading to a stronger relapse prevention foundation.
Surf therapy integrates surfing and mindfulness skills training, helping participants develop healthy coping styles they can apply later when faced with their addiction.
An encounter like this has numerous metaphors and therapeutic opportunities. The group is not about getting up on the board, it is about your approach to learning and being fully present in the moment. According to one participant, “Usually, for therapy, I am either sitting in a room talking or talking in a group. Through surf therapy I learned about my approach to new situations and how fear can take over for me. For once, I really can’t wait to come back and have therapy again.” Since many Sober College students come from outside of California, surfing is an intriguing experience on its own.
The Richie Gaona Trapeze School, located just two miles from the Sober College Campus, allows students to walk a high wire, jump on a large trampoline and fly from a trapeze. This therapy activity teaches students to let go, and trust a power greater than themselves. Not only does it provide the opportunity for students to experience something very few people have and achieve something they are proud of, but it also allows them to process the feelings and emotions surrounding accomplishment. Before beginning their own personal flight, the students are strapped in safety harnesses and briefed on the rules and regulations of the school. They continue with a quick ground lesson on a mini trapeze bar so they can learn safe and correct posture. This process is a practice of patience and following direction, which are essential skills for newly sober young adults both during and after treatment.
Indoor Sky Diving or Wind Tunnel
Indoor skydiving is therapy at 120 miles per hour. The Wind Tunnel allows you to fly at 120 miles per hour in a vertical column of air, giving participants the same experience and the same feeling a skydiver experiences when jumping from 30,000 feet. One by one, the students make their way into the wind tunnel, flying solo for sixty seconds at a time. For many students, this activity requires they face their worst fear, the fear of letting go and experiencing powerlessness.
The Indoor Skydiving experiential therapy activity focuses on two major themes: one, that we have the power to influence our own destiny, and two, that we do not have to follow society’s stigma and expectations of what we need to accomplish or who we should be. The success of a student during this activity is a direct result of how well they manage their emotions, which is essential in relapse prevention.
In equine assisted therapy, the student is asked to interact with a horse by leading, feeding, grooming, or even catching it loose in the stables. As students perform these tasks and interact with the horse, the therapist observes closely, and by watching the horse, learns something about the students.
Horses are said to mirror the human soul. If you approach a horse in anger, the horse gets stubborn. If you act fearfully, the horse acts concerned, and if you show anxiety, the horse gets worried. We can hide our inner feelings pretty well from others around us, but horses always see us for who we are – and the horses that mirror our feelings, have no interest in hiding theirs.
You can lie to your therapist, but a horse – a horse only acknowledges the truth!
Click Here to Read More about the Equine Therapy Program offered at Sober College.