Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is tied to memorable experiences and strong relationships. Experiential Therapy has a deeper, longer-lasting impact on youth, when compared to traditional talk therapy.

The different types of Experiential Therapy offered here at Oxbow Academy include; Expressive Arts, Play Therapy, Equine Therapy, SandTray Therapy, and more.

Relationship-driven Experiential Therapy

Teens often resist traditional therapy. But they are less resistant to experiential therapy. That is because it does not feel like therapy! Experiential therapy focuses on building strong relationships.

The relationship that your son will have with his treatment team is an incredible asset. His treatment team will include clinicians, teachers, residential staff, medical staff, and parents.

Each member of the treatment team uses their area of influence to help your son. Team members help your son to master and apply new skills he learns in therapy. They help him by integrating these new skills with his everyday experiences.

At Oxbow Academy, your son’s everyday experience will include many new activities. These new activities will help your son to develop new skills and interests.

Over time, your son will learn to focus less on the negative aspects of his life. His new experiences will help your son build on the positive aspects of his personality.

Staff members will help your son to make progress. They will help him to process his experiences by understanding their therapeutic value.

There are four clinical phases for each student to work through. At the end of each phase, your son’s treatment team will help him to review his experiences. The review process will help your son to integrate what he has learned.

Arts and Music Program

At Oxbow Academy, every experience is an opportunity for your son to heal and grow. The art and music programs will help your son to find positive outlets. These positive outlets will replace negative patterns.

Many students discover new skills and passions as a result of these programs. As their talent increases, so does their confidence.

Music Program

Your son may enjoy Oxbow Academy's well-established music program. The program features professional instruction in a structured environment. Students will have the opportunity to play music, sing, or take part in a band. Even if they have never played an instrument before, at Oxbow Academy they can learn.

Teens will be able to perform at parent seminars. Oxbow Academy also has a battle of the band with our sister programs. Your son will have the change to compete.
Music Program for Boys on the Autism Spectrum
Many young men who come to Oxbow Academy are on the autism spectrum. The east side of campus is dedicated to helping young men with these unique issues.

Music therapy has been especially effective with these troubled teens. Music therapy can be adapted to the level of any participant. There are many positive effects for students on the autism spectrum, including:

  • Organized sensory component of rhythm,
  • Encouragement to attempt new tasks in a familiar setting,
  • Cognitive stimulation of both sides of the brain for improved functioning,
  • Timing and playing music with others leads to improved, and interpersonal communication.

Art Program

For many teens, the art program becomes a stepping stone to a brighter future. Art helps teens like your own to express their feelings. He may come to understand himself in new ways.

Your son may take part in art therapy during a session with his therapist. Therapists use many different experiential therapies to reach each boy. One of these is through the expression of art.

Your son may also take part in an art elective during school and expand his talents there as well. Therapists and teachers collaborate. Art pieces that students create in this class may be used in a therapy session if there will be a benefit.

Equine Therapy

Teens often resist therapy. Equine Therapy breaks down barriers youth put up. This form of therapy is unique because horses' behavior can inspire unique insights.

Equine Therapy is not learning to ride or how to handle a horse. It consists of a variety of activities performed while the student is near the horse and astride it.

Horses are social animals. The horses’ responses add a new dimension to experiential therapy. As prey animals, horses pay close attention to the behavior of others.

Horses respond well to compassionate, assertive behavior. Seeing the way a horse responds to him will help your son understand his own behavior and relationships.

A clinician and horse professional will help your son work with a horse. They will help your son to process his experiences as they happen.

During Equine Therapy, your son will experience emotional stress, challenges, and successes. He will receive coaching from therapists and horse professionals.

Your son will gain a deeper understanding of how his feelings relate to his behavior. With a greater understanding, his behavior can improve. This will greatly supplement the talk therapy he does with his therapist as well, and give him greater insight into himself.


Each year at Oxbow Academy, at least one foal is born. Your son may have the opportunity to play an important role in the life of a baby horse.

Within the foal's first day of life, he or she is introduced to humans. People rub and stroke the baby horse's ears, nose, legs, and belly. The gentle touches teach the foal not to be afraid of humans. This is called imprinting

The gentle handling prepares the foal to work with humans when it grows up. It also helps socialize it. It provides a great opportunity for Oxbow Academy students too.

Some students help with imprinting. They see the importance of early interaction and family. They also see the effects of positive versus negative touch. Most often, students gain an intuitive understanding of the importance of trust, attachment, and relationships.

Paint the Pony

If your son is at Oxbow Academy during the autumn, he will have the chance to take part in a life-changing activity. The activity is called Paint the Pony. Paint the Pony provides your son the chance to heal by telling his story in a unique way.

This activity was inspired by Native American warriors. Warriors would often decorate their horses with colorful symbols before important hunts.

The Paint the Pony activity builds on this inspiration. Your son will use a live horse, poster paints, and symbols to tell his story.

He will create his own symbols for important events in his life. He will also create symbols that represent his hopes for the future.

A horse that your son has come to know and trust through his equine activities will become a living canvas. Using the live horse, your son will reflect on his past. He will also imagine a brighter future.

For most students, expressing their experience and goals visually is a transformative experience. It is an experience that will provide your son with new insights into his past and future.


All students who come to Oxbow Academy take part in the Equine Program. The Horsemanship Program is something different. Participation in the Horsemanship Program is a privilege that your son may earn.

For your son to earn the privilege of participating, he must make progress in treatment. This includes all aspects of treatment, such as therapy, academics, and residential treatment.

The Equine Program and Horsemanship Program are different. For example, the equine program takes place with a therapist and the equine director. The Horsemanship Program teaches students the basics of Western riding skills with the equine directors.

Students learn how to halter, tie, lunge, and saddle their horse. They learn how to build a bond of trust and respect between themselves and their horses.

Once they have mastered basic skills, they must complete an arena obstacle course. Students who show skill in this test earn their boots. Demonstrating this level of skills means that students are able to go on trail rides. They can schedule a trail ride with their therapist as well. They also may have the opportunity to compete in local horse events.

Earning participation in the Horsemanship Program is a great accomplishment. Having the confidence to ride a horse is an accomplishment in itself. Also, riding in Utah's spectacular backcountry is a therapeutic experience.

Students often return from a trail ride with renewed motivation. They find a new determination to meet their therapeutic goals. They realize what may have once seemed unattainable is well within their grasp.

The Horsemanship Program is one of many ways that your son may transform his life.