At The Exclusive Addiction Treatment Center, Experiential Engagement Therapy™, is designed to make use of the way the human nervous system is wired to learn. Engagement-based therapy experiences have greater sticking power than traditional-style therapy where you sit and receive information or advice passively.
Experiential Engagement Therapy™ is learning about yourself, your emotions, your beliefs, and your addictions by engaging fully in your experience – not just thinking but doing!
Humans learn best through experience. As an ancient Chinese proverb eloquently and succinctly notes: “What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do I understand.”
Today, biologists and neuropsychologists argue that humans are “hardwired” to learn by doing. It has been estimated that while we remember only 20% of what we hear and 50% of what we see, that we retain fully 80% of what we do.
Think about it – which would you remember better? Reading a book on how to ride a bicycle – or actually biking the first time without falling over?
Experiential Engagement Therapy (EET) requires your full engagement and participation in experiencing your emotions, past trauma and unresolved pain. With Experiential Engagement Therapy you will learn how to feel and experience the discomfort that arises in your physical body, the anxiety that arises in your gut, the past traumas and unresolved pain that is lodged in your emotional and physical body. You will learn to make it through the discomfort, to walk through the physical pain and in this uncomfortable place you will find the deepest understanding of yourself, your belief systems, your addictions, your depression and your anxiety.
Experiential Knowledge & Emotional Pain
We’ve seen that experience is key to successful learning, however, when it comes to emotions and unraveling our belief systems, we tend to avoid the experience because it is painful, fearful, or we judge it as shameful.
We’ve trained ourselves to avoid discomfort and pain at pretty much all cost. We don’t want to feel discomfort so we medicate it, regardless of the kind of pain. Hushing down the symptoms of imbalance is socially acceptable, oddly enough. And the rewards of this avoidance way of doing it? False safety.
Avoidance is a natural response from the analytical mind as it is trying to protect you. It makes a very simple analysis that the easiest way to not feel the emotional pain, shame and discomfort in your body is to simply avoid it. And it will go to great lengths to keep you from that pain, which is pretty clever on the analytical mind’s part. It’s working hard to protect you. It creates safety for you, but alas it is a False Safety.
To get past the mind and understand the root cause of your addiction, it is essential to release previous trauma and unresolved pain by resolving emotional pain and discomfort. With EET you will experience True Safety.
True freedom and deep safety exists if you are willing to take a risk to go into the experience of pain, sadness and discomfort itself, to allow our team of experienced and compassionate professionals to guide you to resolution and release from the grasp of addiction.
Experiential Engagement Therapy™ will teach you how to navigate:
- negative thinking
- shame-based thinking
- fear-based beliefs
- emotional distress
- discomfort in your physical body
- uncontrollable cravings
- and more
If we teach you how to do this only cognitively, there will be a limit to how much you will retain and you’ll be missing the most important part which is you facing the emotional pain in order to learn how to navigate it.
If our natural response as human beings is to AVOID THE DISCOMFORT and pain then we will need to change that automatic response. In this program we are going to ask you to actually shift that response, because if you don’t fully participate in the experience you have in your body and your emotions, you won’t be able to gain the deep knowledge that will transform you.
Using the Cognitive and Analytical Mind to Avoid Discomfort
Some of the ways in which you may be using your cognitive and analytical mind to avoid discomfort are:
- You could use drugs and alcohol to avoid emotional pain/discomfort.
- Create false safety by avoiding an experience altogether. For example, you could choose to not fully participate in something. Or, you could choose to never jump on the bicycle and therefore never learn to ride a bike.
- Blame others and situations outside of yourself. You can complain about these external events. These are all ways of discharging the discomfort. For example, ‘The bike is too old’, ‘I don’t like biking’, ‘I’m not doing this exercise’, ‘I don’t like this therapist’, ‘You, should fix my problem’, etc.
What does avoidance get you? A lot of the same pain you’ve been in all along.
How Do We Go From Cognitive Knowledge Into Experiential Knowledge?
The most important ingredients we need in order to move from cognitive knowledge into the experience are safety and connection. Safety allows you to have the courage to get into an experience of your emotional pain and know that you’re not going to be judged, or made fun of. You know that you are not a bad person for being vulnerable and connected with others by sharing things that you’ve never shared with anyone before.
Abiding, inner safety comes from facing all the stories, all the old ideas, all the icky old messages that run over and over in your head — learning to release their hold on you, really letting them go, healing them up.
The Mind-Body Connection
What we teach with Experiential Engagement Therapy™ happens at a body level. It is a very specific kind of bioenergetic body psychotherapy where there is an irrefutable mind-body connection. It is taking the world of the body and the world of the mind, what lives in the body and what lives in the mind, and correlating each with the other.
With bioenergetic analysis you will allow yourself to fully experience and feel the sensations and discomfort that emotions and beliefs bring in your physical body. You will observe how you are triggered by past experiences that are lodged in your physical body, your emotional body, your psyche.
With Experiential Engagement Therapy™, clients discover that just talking about feelings is not enough. In other words we cannot just do cognitive (in your head) therapy, because it will stay cognitive forever. The power of transformation lies in moving into experiencing and feeling all of your feelings without repression. Freeing changes happen when we allow ourselves to create true safety and have the bioenergetic experience. Once that happens, you will learn to follow the experience to your belief system. Once you are in the body, you are riding the bicycle. This visceral body experience will give you knowledge to transform and move beyond the past.
What beliefs are you operating from that lead you to feel discomfort in your body? Mindful Inquiry is the most to-the-point self-discovery method to do just this—discover our deepest hidden beliefs that inform our feelings and our behaviors.
Experiential Learning Through Mindful Inquiry
Mindful Inquiry involves asking questions which are the questions we haven’t even thought to ask—the ones that set us free. When a therapist asks an inquiry question, it leads you to explore inside yourself to find the answer at the core. Mindful Inquiry is very different than when a therapist gives you the answer or gives you advice. Really, we aren’t interested in advice. It’s mostly other people’s ideas that don’t apply to the recipient.
The most intelligent people ask the most questions. They are curious, open, committed to growing themselves. The problem is that we’ve learned to distrust questions. We are raised in a society that is shame-based and fear-based, where we are asked a lot of questions that are not questions. Maybe people have already judged you, while using questions as cover.
Accusations disguised as questions:
- Why can’t you pick up after yourself?
- Why can’t you be more like your brother?
- What’s wrong with you?
- Why are you so stupid?
- Why can’t you behave?
- I suppose you didn’t DO your homework? You didn’t, right?
We cultivate an attitude where questions are the most powerful tool when questions are asked in a non-judgmental way. One of the ways that you create safety is to begin to learn the difference between a question that is a judgement and one that has no agenda or judgement, but contains pure interest in finding answers. It’s less about the words than the “cleanness” of the communication.
How can you feel safe and trust the questions we’re asking you?
Don’t work hard during your program. The more you use your analytical mind to understand the harder it is to learn.
In this entire program there is one thing that matters most and that is your commitment. In this program you can only get as much out as you put in — the currency to invest is your engagement. The extent to which you participate is the extent of the knowledge and transformation you will gain in the program. Participate fully in the program and through your experience you will find your life, your purpose and your balance and vitality again.
We’re here to help you learn and you can’t learn about yourself and healing your addiction at a distance. Hanging out in your head won’t help you step into the experience. Have you ever gone ALL IN to anything to help yourself? This is your chance!
In this program you’re going to develop the muscle to experience discomfort. That is how you will build safety for your future. To build the muscle to say, I’m strong enough to handle discomfort’. We’re going to do EMDR, we’re going to do lots of Mindful Inquiry. We’re going to do Experiential Engagement Therapy. We’re going to ask you to maybe do a crazy dance, maybe to write something you’re uncomfortable about or maybe we’ll recreate a past experience.
We’re going to do so many things that are experiential. When you begin to learn to fully trust the experience you’re going to realize there’s not a whole lot you need to do once you get into the experience. You just need to experience it. Once you get on the bicycle, you don’t need to refer back to the book while you are biking. You already know what to do because you have been practicing is. The experience is giving you the answers to your inner life, to your healing, to your new relationship with yourself.
Welcome to your innate beauty. We know you may be afraid it’s not there—that something’s deeply wrong with you. We know better. We promise.