Equine Therapy in Addiction Treatment

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Part of the Complete Guide to Understanding Addiction

Table of Contents
  1. Equine Therapy in Addiction Treatment
  2. What is Equine Therapy?
  3. History of Equine Therapy
  4. Equine Therapy’s Role in Addiction Treatment
  5. Equine Therapy’s Role in Mental Health Treatment
  6. Building Trust with Equine Therapy
  7. Is Equine Therapy Backed by Science?
  8. The Benefits of Equine Therapy in Addiction Treatment
  9. Developing Character through Equine Therapy
  10. Equine Therapy at Avenues Recovery Center

Equine Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Addiction therapy helps to reshape and restore the mind, body, and soul. Modern therapies suggest that holistic methods are far more effective than traditional therapies, in many cases. That is the main reason why Equine Therapy continues to become more and more popular.

Continue reading to learn more about Equine Therapy and its impact on addiction therapy and mental health.  

What Is Equine Therapy? 

Equine Therapy, otherwise known as Horse Assisted Therapy (HAT), is one of the leading forms of addiction therapy today. Patients have the opportunity to interact with horses. All the while, they are observed by a licensed therapist to monitor their behavior and emotional and mental state. This process has proved to be beneficial in a number of different ways. Not only does it help in addiction treatment, but it can help to treat mental illness as well.  

Mental, emotional, and physical symptoms are extremely common during addiction treatment. Equine Therapy alleviates these symptoms. It also helps improve social skills, communication skills, trust, and confidence.  

The History of Equine Therapy 

Believe it or not, the history of Equine Therapy is extensive. The first recorded use of therapeutic horseback riding dates all the way back to ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians have provided modern society with knowledge in many different areas. Horse therapy is one of them. Records of horseback riding therapy were found in 600 B.C. Greek literature.  

It wasn’t seen much after that until 1946 in Scandinavia. Therapeutic horseback riding was proven to help poliomyelitis recovery. It emerged in 1960 in North America. This was the first-ever record of therapeutic horseback riding in America and was used as a form of recreation for the disabled. The Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD) played a leading role and initiating this form of therapy and proved to have some promising results.  

Horses and other animals have been used for centuries to aid in emotional support, and in today’s world, you can have a certified emotional support dog that allows you to bring the dog nearly everywhere you go. HAT became a popular form of addiction therapy in recent years, and after seeing great success, there is no sign of this form of therapy stopping anytime soon.  

Equine Therapy’s Role in Addiction Treatment 

Horses are extremely sensitive to changes in people, specifically their emotional and mental health. The horse reacts to a person’s feelings. If the person is calm and their mind is at peace, the horse will present a calm demeanor as well. As far as addiction therapy is concerned, the therapist monitors both the patient and the horse. When the horse reacts, the therapist takes notes and can understand how the patient feels, even if they don’t outwardly present those emotions.  

This is the main reason why it has helped with addiction therapy so much. It is a common occurrence for patients to hide how they truly feel. Addiction therapy is potentially the most vulnerable period in a person’s life. When someone feels vulnerable, they are less likely to want to express how they truly feel. Most of the time, they will ask to leave the treatment instead. They will come up with every excuse as to why they can’t continue their treatment.  

Equine Therapy gives the person a chance to get out of their current state of mind. Even for a short time, the person feels as if they are elsewhere, and they get to experience just how peaceful life can be. During this time, the patient is more likely to let their guard down. As a result, the therapist can better assess the patient’s state of being, which allows for a tailored therapeutic experience the patient is more likely to benefit from.  

Equine Therapy’s Role in Mental Health Treatment 

Equine Therapy helps to address a list of the common symptoms experienced by most patients, including: 

  • Focus 
  • Communication  
  • Boundaries
  • Postures  
  • Balance 
  • Coordination  
  • New skills 
  • Attitude 
  • Outlook 
  • Teamwork 
  • Responsibility  
  • Memory  

It can also help to treat many different mental illnesses, including:  

  • Anxiety  
  • Depression  
  • Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Behavioral problems 
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Relationship issues 
  • Emotional intelligence  
  • Ability to connect with others 
  • Resilience  
  • Inner peace  
  • Mindfulness  

Building Trust through Equine Therapy

Many people have found that Equine Therapy relieves some – if not all – of their mental illness symptoms. It provides a sense of relief they cannot find elsewhere. The horses have a way of providing a sense of empowerment in the person as well. Horses might be sensitive to the human’s emotional and mental reactions, but the human has a way of benefiting from the horse just as much. There are mutual respect and love that can be formed when the patient allows their walls to fall down.  

That said, sometimes it is hard for some patients to allow their guard to fall at first. Much like humans, horses can be the same way. This is where trust comes into play. Once the human and horse gain that mutual trust, that is when the true benefits are seen.  

Is Equine Therapy Backed By Science?

Yes! Many studies have been published proving the benefits of Equine therapy. This study, in particular, showed just how beneficial the therapy is for women and boosting their self-realization and self-esteem. That isn’t all, though. The abundance of studies continues to grow. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find a study that proves anything negative related to this form of treatment. 

Another study even proved some of the benefits to be factual as well, including:  

  • Improved balance 
  • Improved well-being 
  • Improved quality of life 
  • A gain in trust 
  • Improved self-efficacy  
  • Self-esteem 
  • Increased pleasure and positivity  
  • Sense of accomplishment 

There is a reason this is one of the fastest-growing forms of holistic addiction therapy, and science agrees with this reason. Horses provide that connection that the person maybe has never felt before in their lifetime. The horse gives them a sense of hope to continue on. That they can experience this connection in life, and they can potentially experience it with another human. The world can only hope to see more success stories and more scientific studies supporting this form of treatment.  

The Benefits of Equine Therapy in Addiction Treatment

The benefits of working with horses in a therapeutic environment are essentially endless. Our modern world is only now discovering how beneficial these magnificent creatures really are. Humans are very connected to nature and animals. When we get back to our roots and allow ourselves to feel that connection, incredible inner healing occurs.  

The main benefits patients usually experience are emotionally and mentally based. In turn, they acquire a sense of self-esteem, and many establish determination and drive within themselves that they have never felt before.  

Developing Character through Equine Therapy

Below are some traits in which people taking advantage of equine therapy show growth:

  • Passion  
  • Positivity  
  • Realistic Outlook  
  • Resiliency  
  • Resourcefulness  
  • Drive 
Communication

It’s as if these creatures can communicate with humans non-verbally. Providing healing from the inside out and tends to awaken the fire within the person once again. Impulse-control is another major benefit that many patients experience. In terms of alcohol addiction, impulse-control is like the holy grail to reduce the risk of relapse after treatment. The modern world is full of temptation and impulses. It can be extremely easy to give in to those impulses. Self-awareness and self-confidence help with impulse-control development, which is all provided with Equine Therapy.  

Responsibility

Many treatment centers have the patients clean, maintain, and take care of the horses as well as ride them. It is this extra step in the treatment that not only helps to build the trust between the patient and the horse, but it teaches the patient responsibility and how it feels to accomplish something.  

Healing

There really isn’t much that Horse Assisted Therapy can’t heal within a person. Once the mental and emotional areas are mastered, the person can take on anything. It is when the mind is weak and riddled with an illness that it becomes harder to see the clear picture and easier to fall for impulses.  

Equine Therapy at Avenues Recovery Center

Avenue Recovery is the perfect addition to your life if you are looking for Equine Therapy. Their intelligent and caring therapists work with you every step of the way to ensure that you get the treatment you need. For many, Equine Therapy is the answer. Animals provide a sense of connection and healing that is hard to find anywhere else in the world, especially when you already feel alone and at rock bottom. The truth is, Avenue Recovery is the right turn you’ve been looking for. They constantly work with you to ensure you not only detox in a healthy manner but that you establish those key emotional and mental skills needed to succeed in a life of recovery.  

Be sure to call today for more information.  

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