Experiential therapy

Experiential Therapy

We know that each child, teen and adult that receives our care is unique, and not every person makes connections in treatment or personal discoveries in the same way. Experiential therapy provides another pathway to understanding both a patient's challenges and how they may cope. 

Rogers has a strong, diverse experiential therapy program. Patients may experience some of the following as part of their treatment plan: 

  • Art therapy
  • Horticultural therapy 
  • Music therapy
  • Recreational and movement therapy 
    • Challenge and adventure courses
    • Paddleboarding
    • Therapeutically designed games
    • Yoga 
  • Pet therapy

Experiential therapy will help you build skills you might not otherwise practice in regular treatment and develop a deeper understanding of your care at Rogers. The approach is hands-on and our therapeutic techniques are based on the interactive experiences you’ll have.

“I’ve seen so many people come into our program and express feelings that they may never have expressed before, learn new skills that they didn’t think they were able to accomplish, build new relationships, take healthy risks and learn to trust people,” says Mike Hoelzer, art therapist at Rogers in Oconomowoc. “It’s quite an incredible way to work with people in a treatment setting.” 

Art therapy

Art therapy encourages creative problem-solving through sculpting, painting, and drawing. Children, teens, and adults have found positive benefits in simply participating in the process. Over the course of treatment, patients may find it difficult to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. With art therapy, they can express themselves through creative pieces instead. The caring and talented art therapists throughout Rogers help guide in exploring emotions in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Art pieces are used to challenge patients' preconceived expectations and increase their ability to focus on solutions. This creative expression leads toward emotional insight and increased confidence. 

“Creating a piece of art can also serve as a great reminder for patients who want to hold onto the skills they learned in treatment and make those techniques a regular part of their life and activities.”

-Mike Hoelzer, art therapist at Rogers in Oconomowoc. 

Horticultural therapy and therapeutic landscapes 

Increasing access to nature is scientifically proven to not only improve physical health, but mental health as well. A deep connection to the environment and plant life is ingrained in Rogers’ century-old therapeutic legacy and an active part of treatment.

Our facilities and outdoor spaces on the Oconomowoc campus are intentionally designed to be peaceful places for patients to rest, reconnect and make more meaningful discoveries in your treatment. Therapeutic spaces include gazebos, bird and butterfly gardens, outdoor gardening spaces, and scenic walking trails. 

Patients engage in horticultural therapy at various locations. While in treatment, patients may use nature to decrease anxiety, improve relationship to food and make peace with imperfections through activities such as:

  • Creating floral and seasonal arrangements
  • Creating crafts with natural materials, such as photo frames
  • Building bird and small animal feeders
  • Growing herbs to be used in meals

With a sophisticated self-regulated climate control system, our state-of-the-art greenhouse in Oconomowoc makes it possible to stay connected with the environment and grow plants year-round. Getting messy and making mistakes is all a part of the experience.

Recreational therapy

At Rogers, recreational therapy encompasses a number of meaningful therapeutic activities promoting physical movement, which encourage a lifelong, healthy lifestyle.


While in treatment, patients may participate in yoga as a complement to behavioral therapy. Individually or with a group, patients learn the slow stretches, poses, and meditation that can help them reach their goals.

During the therapeutic movements of yoga, patients have increased concentration, mood and focus to more effectively manage anxiety and triggers; practice mindfulness; enhance resilience and improve the connection between mind and body. 

Continuing to practice yoga after treatment helps sustain recovery while group yoga offers positive social benefits.


(Oconomowoc only)

Located in the lower gardens at Rogers in Oconomowoc, our 40-foot labyrinth offers you a journey of twists and turns almost a quarter mile long. Rogers’ labyrinth is challenging, but easily navigable. Labyrinths require us to focus on the journey ahead. Some turns we make help us get closer to our goals, while others do not—similar to the choices we make in life at work or home.

With proven health benefits, labyrinths offer the opportunity to clear the mind, create a new perspective, focus on the current challenge, and relate the experience to everyday life and continued recovery.

Paddle boarding

(Oconomowoc only)

Patients can take advantage of our scenic lakeside setting as part of experiential therapy. Under the guidance of trained staff, patients use a traditional surf board and paddle to propel across the top of the water while standing on the board. Paddle boarding can be empowering. It builds confidence and reminds patients what they are capable of, their strengths and coordination as they challenge themselves to overcome fears and self-doubt, and leads to a more positive mood and outlook.

Ropes course

(Oconomowoc only)

Patients may engage in adventure-based experiences on our woodland ropes course. With the security of safety equipment and the support of the team below, patients make their way across the ropes course that is suspended mid-air. Oftentimes, people who thought they would never be able to complete the course are amazed by their own ability and determination after finishing.

Play areas

At various rural and urban Rogers locations, secure outdoor play areas offer children space to practice treatment techniques with their peers or take a step back from treatment and enjoy the benefits of playtime. Regular breaks from therapy give children a chance to center themselves, get creative, and just be a kid in a more familiar environment.

By observing a child interacting with others in an everyday environment, such as a play area, our treatment team can develop a better understanding of their social skills. Research also tells us that spending time outdoors offers various physical health benefits and has been demonstrated to improve mood.

Movement rooms

Indoor gyms and movement rooms are available at various Rogers locations as part of treatment. Movement and dance therapy, as well as other therapeutic methods of activity, are evidence-based techniques for improving the connection between mind and body. These therapies may also maintain or increase the body’s capacity for movement, adding to overall wellness.

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Call 800-767-4411 or go to rogersbh.org to request a free screening.