Equine-Assisted Therapy for Addiction

Various treatment options are available to help individuals to overcome substance abuse. Equine-assisted therapy, a holistic treatment, motivates a person to receive help. In fact, anyone who loves horses may find this therapy very supportive. Thanks to the ability of the horses to simulate emotional growth, patients enjoy the opportunity to harness a successful recovery from drugs and alcohol. Specifically, this therapy helps patients develop confidence, trust, impulse control, and other social skills.

People interact with the horses in a special manner. A certified therapist observes behavior so that it is easier to uncover thought patterns and emotional reactions in patients. This makes it possible to understand personal issues and to turn them around so that an individual establishes better relationships with others and stops negative behavior. At Harmony Place, we offer equine therapy for depression and other conditions that may lead to substance abuse.

How Horses Help with Addiction Treatment

Horses have a keen sense of the emotional changes of people. Therefore, they play key roles in substance abuse recovery. A therapist analyzes a horse’s reaction to a patient’s mood and learns other helpful information during each interaction with the animal. Horses often mirror the reaction of a nearby person, which can indicate various details about equine-assisted counseling patients.

Since most people find horses to be welcoming and non-judgmental, they establish trust. In return, a horse reflects a person’s state of being. When a therapist gains insight into a patient’s deep state of mind, positive treatment outcomes result.

What Equine-Assisted Therapy Entails

Throughout equine-assisted counseling, a patient rides horses or spends time caring for the animals. A certain period of time each day is dedicated to this type of treatment. Commonly, this type of therapy is a wonderful complement to other conventional therapy methods.

Who Performs Equine-Assisted Therapy?

Doctors and therapists receive training and licensing to perform this kind of therapy. Also, all animals meet temperament standards and receive obedience training. This ensures that the therapy is safe and effective for both the patients and the animals. Patients receive a small orientation as well.

Professionals and therapists can help individuals learn how to properly care for horses, giving them guidance to keep the animals comfortable during therapy sessions. While horses may not always wish to engage during all sessions, they typically respond extremely well and interact safely with patients throughout therapy.

Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

Horse-assisted therapy offers numerous benefits for people who battle substance abuse. Besides psychological advantages, this therapy provides physical advantages. In other words, patients work with horses and create relationships with the animals. In turn, patients learn how to improve relationships with loved ones. Also, patients engage better during rehabilitation. Furthermore, horse therapy has proven to lower blood pressure, decrease stress, and to improve overall health.

Horse-assisted therapy helps patients heal their bodies, minds, and spirits.How Horses Help with Addiction Treatment

  • It builds trust and confidence. This therapy empowers patients with trust and confidence throughout rehab treatment.
  • It enhances communication skills. As a patient learns healthy ways to communicate, it is possible to get to the root of the underlying issues behind his or her substance abuse.
  • It helps to develop positive social skills. As patients interact with horses, they learn healthy ways to cope and to deal with triggers.
  • It provides a different thought process. With increased self-confidence, a patient moves beyond the mentality that abusing drugs and alcohol is the only way out of a difficult situation.

In addition, all the benefits are vital in the process of overcoming substance abuse. Although many of the same benefits are achieved through conventional forms of therapy, working with horses is enjoyable, interactive, and it occurs in a tranquil setting. Patients learn to leave their comfort zones and to better handle treatment into the long-term.

How Effective is Equine Therapy?

In 2014, a study evaluated the well-being of patients who participated in equine-based therapy. It had been proven that interaction with horses did improve a person’s overall state and helped patients heighten communication skills. Additional benefits include improved problem-solving abilities and an increase in positivity. In other words, it was shown that therapy with horses is a creative and effective way to treat substance abuse and to begin a life of sobriety.

For centuries, horses have been helpful in therapy. In this country, horseback riding was introduced as a form of therapy for the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled. This therapy had been used to motivate disabled individuals. Today, other animals are involved in therapy. However, horses are the most popular. Patients must gain trust and give trust.

Differences Between Conventional Inpatient Therapy and Equine-Assisted Counseling

Benefits of Equine-Assisted TherapyConventional inpatient therapy occurs inside a rehab facility. Patients attend individual therapy and group sessions. Although it is effective, it may not be as interactive as some people may desire or require. On the other hand, horse-assisted counseling takes place in nature. The calming air offers relaxation to a patient. Outside of a hospital setting, many patients lower their guards and become more open to treatment. However, both conventional therapy and equine counseling occur in safe and stable settings.

Equine-based therapy increases a patient’s engagement. Oftentimes, a patient becomes burned out in traditional therapy sessions. Horse therapy mixes things up. Like conventional therapy, equine-based therapy teaches tools that help an individual overcome addiction, but it is done in a more motivational way.

Instead of solely participating in talk-based therapy, equine therapy offers activity that keeps the minds of patients occupied. Therefore, it is possible to put learned techniques into practice and to change negative behavior. Also, a patient becomes productive and has a reason to look at life in a positive manner.

Equine Therapy for Dual Diagnosis

It is extremely common for a patient to receive a dual diagnosis. In other words, a person with a dual diagnosis suffers with addiction alongside another mental health disorder. For example, a person may endure depression, anxiety, or a similar condition at the same time as substance abuse. As this occurs, a person must receive treatment for mental and physical symptoms so that a full recovery is possible. Equine-based therapy is an effective treatment option for those who suffer from co-occurring disorders.

Ultimately, the goal of addiction treatmentl is to help patients recover into the long-term. With dual diagnosis, people work hard to heal relationships with friends and family. By learning how to trust and communicate, the process is much easier. Horse-based therapy assists on this journey.

Equine-Based Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

Panic or general anxiety can hamper recovery, especially if it is part of a mental condition. Constant worrying makes recovery difficult. Equine-based therapy creates a chance for patients to remain present and to focus on sobriety.

Since horses change their behavior when they sense angst, a patient processes difficulties through this behavior. It is easier than speaking directly about his or her own battles with anxiety. Also, this treatment makes a patient become vulnerable. Luckily, it is in a safe atmosphere. In other words, it becomes simpler to process challenges during therapy.

Equine-Based Therapy for PTSD

Besides anxiety, PTSD is quite common in people who suffer from addiction. As people remember certain traumatic events, they become reactive. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the negative feelings. Equine-assisted therapy helps to alleviate the debilitating emotions. When combined with other traditional therapies, a person learns how to deal with triggers so that he or she manages both emotional difficulties and addictive habits.

How to Choose a Facility that Offers Equine-Based Therapy

Although many treatment facilities offer holistic equine-based therapy, it is best to select a center that has a staff that is certified to work with these animals and has programs that are designed for discussion. If a person has a fear of animals, it may be wise to choose another type of therapy. Also, it is smart for a patient to inquire whether or not his or her insurance provider offers coverage for this type of treatment.How to Choose a Facility that Offers Equine-Based Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is quite useful for treating addiction and other mental conditions. However, it may not be appropriate for all patients in rehab. Before a person begins this therapy, it is essential to understand that there is no quick fix to recovery. A patient must be ready to work hard and to deal with uncomfortable emotions in order to receive successful results. After a session of equine counseling, a patient must discuss progress with his or her therapist. In certain instances, therapists change methods of treatment.

Working with Harmony Place for Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction and other mental health disorders don’t go away without help. Symptoms build and continue to affect those who suffer from these disorders. In fact, when symptoms go untreated, they get worse. At Harmony Place, we understand that individuals find it difficult to ask for help. Although people become distanced from friends and family, they feel that hopelessness is the only option.

If you battle substance abuse in Los Angeles, help is nearby. You may wish to participate in traditional treatments that are complemented by holistic therapies like equine-assisted counseling. At our facility, we practice this kind of therapy so that you increase your chances of enjoying long-term sobriety. For more information, contact us today.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549209/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158387/