Many people understand horseback riding as a calming, therapeutic exercise. This isn’t so far off. It even has a name: equine assisted psychotherapy, or equine therapy. People around the world use this therapy. Initially, people used it to help patients recover from traumatic injuries. Later on, in the last two decades, equine therapy branched off into the field of psychology, and now treats issues like co-dependence, ADHD, grief, anger management, and drug addiction.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
There are a few different kinds of equine assisted psychotherapy. Each combines the use of horses with a different form of therapy: equine-assisted therapy (EAT), equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), and equine-assisted learning therapy (EAL), plus a few others. Yes, these treatment options, especially EAP, are effective in helping the patient build a variety of skills and traits such as confidence, communication, problem-solving, social interaction, and facing fears. Both teenagers and adults seem to benefit from these programs.
Horses as Social Animals
Horses are social animals, with distinct personalities and moods- just like people. They may be stubborn or defiant, but patients learn how to work them, and how to work with them. Getting out of the self and being of service to another creature, like one that is large, needy, and can’t groom itself, has an astronomical ripple effect. Patients have to be the responsible ones in the relationship, resulting in feelings of empowerment, self-esteem, patience, kindness and compassion all earned from interactions based on trust and care. Studies show that equine assisted therapy can help boost endorphins, lower blood pressure, and create calm.
Equine therapists go far beyond the physical act of riding or care-taking. Therapists who run the equine assisted therapy programs have licenses and certifications specifically to do so by an organization. They are doctors first and animal handlers second. The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), the primary facility for this, is lauded in the field for its high standards, education, and support for EAP therapists.
Equine Therapy and Disorders
Equine therapy is also used to help treat persistent, non-drug related problems such as anxiety disorders, psychiatric and behavioral difficulties, and psychological illnesses like schizophrenia. Typically, equine therapy is most effective alongside other treatment modalities: cognitive-behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, or medication programs.
Equine Assisted Therapy at The Last Resort Recovery
In Smithville, Texas, The Last Resort Recovery offers equine assisted therapy programs to help men overcome their addictions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. In addition to equine therapy, the Last Resort Recovery also offers mens addiction treatment programs, such as:
- Exercise and addiction recovery
- Evidence based treatment
- The Brave Heart Experience
- Rehab family program
Equine therapy is an increasingly popular form of addiction treatment. The Last Resort is proud to provide equine therapy as part of its rehabilitation program. For more information on our programs of treatment call 512-750-6750.