In simple terms, equine therapy is therapy that involves the use of horses. For more than 50 years, equine therapy has been used to help people facing many challenges, including addiction and substance use disorder (SUD), anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), autism, eating disorders, grief/loss, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. Due to its effectiveness in treating many disorders and diseases, equine therapy is an excellent modality for people dealing with addiction and a co-occurring diagnosis.
It’s a form of experiential therapy, meaning equine therapy takes place through the person experiencing the horse, as compared to talk therapy which involves only speaking. Equine therapy may include activities like grooming, feeding, haltering or leading the horse under the supervision of a mental health professional.
Equine therapy offers our residents a chance to rebuild their skills in relationship, as well as to work through negative thought patterns and behaviors that are holding them back.
How does Equine Therapy work?
While the resident is working with the horse, the equine therapist observes and notes behavior patterns. The therapist and resident then discuss some of these behaviors and associated thoughts and emotions during the activity and/or after. As our equine therapy patients work with the horse under the supervision of an equine therapist, they have an opportunity to recognize any self-defeating, limiting or negative thoughts and behaviors and consider how they could be contributing to their life results. Equine therapy offers our residents the opportunity to practice many skills and attributes that are critical to finding and maintaining sobriety, including accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem solving skills, self-control, emotional intelligence, and honesty.
Addiction can be isolating and lonely for many reasons. For many people, addiction became a wedge in their relationships with family and friends. Equine therapy offers a safe way for people to reawaken or learn for the first time how to trust others, rely on others and be relied on, and rebuild relationships without dealing with humans who may judge or fear. Horses don’t lie, and they are intelligent animals who are sensitive to people’s true emotions, not charades; as such, they are an excellent mirror for a person who is rediscovering his or her authenticity.
Equine therapy is noted as a particularly effective approach for people who have not shown much progress in other types of drug rehab treatment or who are feeling stuck in their treatment. As mentioned above, equine therapy is used to treat a wide variety of conditions and diseases, so it is ideal for someone who is dealing with other disorders or health challenges in addition to addiction.
Benefits of Equine Therapy
Equine therapy is associated with the positive results listed below and many more, including improved:
At Inner Peace Ranch, we believe there is a time for doing work on oneself and there is a time to rest in reflection. Equine therapy can be a way to combine the two, as working with horses is a resultful activity for the spirit even as the body engages in the work. If you are interested in learning more about our equine therapy and how it can be part of your addiction treatment at Inner Peace Reserve, call 1-855-822-1400. Our compassionate team of addiction professionals is ready to help you or your loved one begin the journey toward sobriety and a healthy, new life!