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I Went into the Woods: The Healing Power of Experiential Therapy

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau

At The King's Forge Counseling, we believe that there is help for those who are hurting, the ability to give knowledge, and the building of perspective that can lead to a renewal of life, meaning, and purpose. Deep hurts can be healed and lost things can be found.

With this in mind, we were able to have our first experiential therapy session (adventure therapy!) on the river fly fishing and being mindful in creation. We are all primally connected to nature, and the deep greens, gray rocks, and flowing water can reconnect us and bring healing. We weren't created for many of the roles we have to fill as a necessity for living, and being in nature can bring peace--lessening distraction and anxiety. Plus, we can learn new skills that build our efficacy!

In a world often characterized by constant connectivity and digital distractions, the therapeutic value of immersing ourselves in nature is vital. Experiential therapy, a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes engaging in activities or experiences as a therapeutic tool, harnesses the healing potential of the outdoors to promote mental and emotional well-being.

Experiential therapy is a broad term encompassing various approaches, including wilderness therapy, adventure therapy, and ecotherapy. While these approaches differ in their techniques and settings, they share a common belief in the transformative power of being in nature. By integrating outdoor experiences into the therapeutic process, we are encouraged to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a natural environment, leading to profound insights and personal growth.

One of the key benefits of experiential therapy is its ability to break down barriers and facilitate authentic connections. The outdoors provides a neutral and non-judgmental space where we can feel more comfortable expressing ourselves. Whether through group activities like hiking, or individual exercises like journaling in a serene natural setting, experiential therapy encourages us to engage with our surroundings (and each other) in meaningful ways.

The sensory-rich environment of the outdoors can have a calming effect on the mind, reducing stress and anxiety naturally and safely. Research shows that spending time in nature lowers cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, and improves overall mood. This natural stress relief can be particularly beneficial when we are struggling with anxiety, PTSD, depression, grief, and more offering a therapeutic alternative or complement to traditional talk therapy.

While we explore creation, experiential therapy helps us develop valuable life skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, outdoor techniques/skills, and resilience. Facing challenges in the wilderness, whether it's navigating a trail, building a shelter, rock climbing, or fly fishing can build confidence and self-efficacy. These experiences not only translate into improved mental health but also equip individuals with the tools to navigate life's challenges more effectively.

Henry David Thoreau said it best when he realized that "when I came to die, [I did not want to] discover that I had not lived.", and we don't either. So come with us to the woods and discover what you might be missing by filling out a contact form at

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