Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Equine-Assisted Therapy Can Be a Unique and Effective Intervention

Equine-Assisted Therapy Can Be a Unique and Effective Intervention

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Over the years, emotional support animals have become a popular and effective type of therapy. While you might be aware of the emotional benefits of having a dog or cat, maybe you’ve never heard about equine therapy: a form of therapy that involves activities with horses. There are many therapeutic advantages that equine treatment offers to people coping with anxiety, depression, or addiction.

Because this kind of therapy is relatively new, many people have questions about equine-assisted therapy. Would equine therapy be helpful? What are the advantages? Do you need to know a lot about horses to take part?

Here are some of the ways equine-assisted therapy can benefit you:

Managing addiction

Equine treatment is an incredibly beneficial treatment for individuals or couples recuperating from substance abuse issues. It can easily be integrated with either individual or couples rehab sessions. Studies on individuals using equine-assisted therapy for substance abuse issues found that the relationship created with the horse under their care had an essentially constructive outcome on their self-identity, and created a unique emotional support system.

Individuals battling addiction may have a skewed perspective on themselves. The affection for a creature can have a significant effect on self-confidence. In addition, equine therapy can also provide an extraordinary way to take part in a fun and healthy activity. Riding horses provides an excellent way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Just by being outside and with nature, people often feel their mood improve. 

Self-awareness is a fundamental element in a wide range of therapies for various issues, but explicitly for those experiencing substance abuse problems. Having a gentle giant giving prompt feedback to your current behaviours, emotions, and temperaments can help build a more grounded sense of self-awareness that is vital to recovery.

Communication and interpersonal Skills 

Many individuals with mental health challenges and problems with addiction also suffer from emotional issues. They can sometimes experience difficulty getting close to, or relating to others. With equine-assisted therapy, participants learn how to create close bonds with the horses. Through working with these animals, individuals begin to understand their patterns of cooperating with others. Horses don’t talk, yet they are incredible communicators. 

Figuring out how to comprehend horse behaviour can assist individuals learn how their behaviours affect others. In fact, horses begin building relationships with individuals as members of their herd. When this happens, people get to choose whether they will continue to hold on to their old ways of interactions or accept this new and unique chance to develop a new kind of relationship.

Leading, haltering, and grooming horses are exercises that teach individuals how to address others with respect. In equine-assisted therapy, individuals speak about what they feel and see. The therapist guides participants on how to observe the horse’s responses objectively. This way, it is easier to perceive how perceptions can be misinformed or inaccurate, and how personal issues can be projected onto others. 

Emotional development

Horses are intuitive and sensitive animals capable of perceiving emotional states, and reacting to them accordingly. Horses can instinctively read a person’s tone, behaviour, and body language to ascertain their emotional state. Their reactions are usually more honest and intuitive regarding the behaviour. That provides participants with valuable feedback on their emotional state and how their emotions can influence the people around them.

Horses have various personalities, attributes, and desires that can be learned, in order to have meaningful relationships with them. When interacting with horses, you immediately realize that you’re limited in your control over them. You’re restricted to a dialogue where you must engage and convince, rather than simply command. This experience offers valuable lessons on how to handle relationships with others.

Is equine-assisted therapy for you?

Given the various advantages of equine therapy, it’s not surprising to learn that it is becoming a common form of therapy around the world. Equine treatment facilitated by an experienced and skilled mental health expert can help individuals experiencing distinctive mental health and addiction challenges.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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