How Equine Therapy Can Help People with Addiction

How Equine Therapy Can Help People with Addiction

Also referred to as Horse Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, the goal of this type of therapy is to help a person develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control. Because addicts often lack these skills, equine therapy can help individuals struggling with addiction to get their lives back on track.

Equine Therapy and Addiction

Equine therapy can be helpful in treating addiction for a number of reasons. In most cases, equine therapy involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering, and leading a horse that are supervised by a mental health professional and often with the support of a horse professional. By taking responsibility for the care and maintenance of a horse, addicts learn about effective interactions.

During sessions, the mental health professional will observe how a person acts and reacts towards the horse. These observations provide an insight into the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that the person is experiencing, as well as help the mental health professional understand what obstacles the person is encountering and how he or she deals with those obstacles.

Participants are required to use feelings, behaviors, and patterns to better understand the horse and themselves. By referring to the interactions with the horse, the mental health professional can identify and address a range of emotional and behavioral challenges that the person is experiencing in a more neutral manner.

Why Horses Can Help Addicts

There are many animal-assisted therapy programs that are designed to help people heal and grow. The reasons animals are used in therapy include the following:

  • They require non-verbal communication and the use of body language
  • Typically animals are non-judgmental
  • They have no preconceived expectations or motives
  • They mirror attitudes and behaviors of the humans with whom they are working

All of these attributes require that recovering addicts act in a manner that is different from their normal interactions with people. Being required to behave in a different way affords people the opportunity to look at things differently.

Benefits of Equine Therapy during Addiction Rehabilitation

While Equine Therapy is a relatively new therapeutic strategy, it has been shown to be effective in helping people gain experience and build skills in the following areas:

  • Problem solving
  • Work ethic
  • Personal responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Confidence
  • Attitude
  • Emotional growth
  • Relationship building
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-concept
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Perspective
  • Decreased isolation
  • Self-acceptance
  • Impulse control
  • Social skills
  • Boundaries
  • Spiritual connection

Often these benefits are experienced simply by interacting with the horses. With the assistance of the mental health professional, people are able to explore these benefits and learn how to incorporate them into their daily lives.

Who Benefits from Equine Therapy?

While equine therapy has most frequently been used with troubled teens, it is an effective therapy tool for anyone who needs to improve in the following areas:

  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Stress tolerance
  • Flexibility
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Self-actualization
  • Independence
  • Self-regard
  • Social responsibility
  • Interpersonal relationships

Addicts, people suffering with mental health issues, as well as traumatized individuals can all receive the benefits of equine therapy.

Get Help Learning More About Equine Therapy and Addiction

Call our toll-free number today if you would like to learn more about equine therapy. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have and help you find the addiction rehabilitation treatment that is right for you.