What Is Equine Therapy? Healing Through Horses
We live in an age where continuous advances in alternative treatment modalities are growing—using animals as a form of therapy is one option that has been increasingly on the rise. One specific modality currently being used by addiction treatment centers is equine therapy. Many times, as a person moves through their addiction, they begin to lose sight of themselves, resulting in negative emotions. These emotions may be isolation, loss of self-worth, and fear. Equine therapy allows these feelings to be brought to the surface, and instead of being trapped by negative emotions, they begin to feel a sense of connectedness, confidence, and focus.
What Is Equine Therapy?
During equine therapy (sometimes referred to as equine psychotherapy), patients interact with horses—but this doesn’t necessarily mean riding them. Activities such as grooming and interacting with the animals are just as important as riding. These horses are also specially trained—they are calm, grounded, and receptive, enabling each person in treatment to easily interact with the animal(s). In terms of addiction treatment, horses are used in conjunction with other methods within a comprehensive addiction treatment plan.
Benefits of Equine Therapy
According to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, “the concept that horses might be helpful or healing to people struggling with mental health issues is based on the idea that horses (as domesticated prey animals) are extremely sensitive to changes in the human being (as a predatory creature). Due to their sensitivity, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person’s emotional state.”
Working with a horse serves as a barometer, providing the client and therapist with information regarding the client’s moods, as well as changes within those moods. If a client is anxious, the horse will act and respond a specific way. If the client becomes calm, the horse’s behaviors will also change. This provides observational and skill-building opportunities for both the client and the therapist. Other benefits of equine therapy during addiction rehabilitation are:
- Increase in social support, making clients feel they can rely on other people for help
- Improvements in self-esteem, communication skills, and trust
- Reading a horse’s body language and caring for their needs can help in emotional healing, personal growth, and reminding the client of their need for self-care
Treatment for Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get the help and support you need today. Contact Daylight Recovery Services at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to speak with one of our recovery experts. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Treatment is available and can be tailored to your specific needs. Do not be afraid to ask for help. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and there is hope in recovery.