Equine-Assisted Therapy for Addiction in Austin

Equine Therapy Addiction Treatment in Austin

Equine-assisted therapy is also known as horse-assisted therapy or equine-assisted psychotherapy. This program is designed to give participants an interactive, action-based way to overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Our experienced therapists will help you build a relationship with your horse, develop life skills to carry beyond equine therapy, and work to fulfill your recovery goals. Forging a sincere connection with a horse helps our clients improve their communication skills and practice maintaining a commitment through the structure of our program.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact the Last Resort Recovery Center today to learn more about our unique equine programs as well as our other experiential addiction treatment clinics.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine-assisted psychotherapy for addiction, as taught by the Natural Lifemanship program, is not a typical trail ride. Our animal-assisted addiction treatment facility has been carefully cultivated to guide our residents to build a deep and meaningful relationship with their horse. By building a profound, emotional connection to their animal, our clients are able to learn essential relationship skills and begin a true healing process. 

Addiction generally causes significant interpersonal pitfalls for our clients in their daily lives. By forming a healthy connection with our on-site horses, clients are better prepared to nurture positive relationships with people. This reduces the need to rely on addictive substances to cope with social and emotional anxiety.

At The Last Resort Recovery, our horses are not merely tools but companions that form a true connection with our clients. The genuine, nonjudgmental, and accepting nature of these animals provides the bridge to connect with others in a positive, authentic way. Equine-assisted therapy helps clients in our treatment center reform the bonds of compassion and overcome the emotional and mental distress from past relationships, creating a path to healing and an addiction-free life.

History of Equine Assistance in Addiction Treatment

Therapy with horses has been used for thousands of years. Horses are an excellent way for people to relate to others and build self-esteem. When people interact and care for a horse, they learn not only respect for the creature but for themselves and others as well. It can also help people develop a deeper connection to the world around them.

Though other animals are successfully used in therapy, horses have become popular in part due to their size and strength. Such presence requires the rider to not only trust the animal but to gain its trust as well. This, coupled with their ability to provide immediate feedback, makes them excellent therapy animals.

How Does Horse Therapy Help With Addiction?

In our equine therapy program, clients consistently practice self-regulation, which gives them the skills to calm their bodies. It also enables them to improve their cognitive processing abilities.

Drug and alcohol addiction, trauma, and chronic stress have negative effects on the brain, which can inhibit your ability to create and maintain healthy connections. The brain’s adaptive responses to these stressors create avoidant, inconsistent behavior patterns. 

Equine-assisted therapy provides essential sensory stimulation. This cultivates mental development and addresses some of the root causes of addiction. In addition to groundwork with horses, our facility use mounted exercises. These provide movement that organizes the brain and produces new neural pathways for mental and emotional growth. Therefore, by engaging different areas of the brain, clients begin to understand their true needs. This experience sets them on a path to finding new, healthy ways to explore and interact within their environment without the crutch of addictive substances.

The influence of this therapeutic experience promotes change. Old belief systems are challenged while knowledge and confidence are gained. Clients are empowered by their success with our horses. New interests are explored, and new, healthy relationship patterns are discovered and fine-tuned.

Benefits of Equine Therapy Sessions for Addicts

Equine therapy offers many benefits for our residents, especially those who have trouble connecting with others or who struggle with self-care. The Last Resort’s equine-assisted therapy program also helps individuals with substance abuse learn how to care for another living thing and, in turn, themselves. Some additional benefits include:

  • Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Healthy sensory input that creates new bodily awareness
  • Experiential (thinking, doing, problem-solving) therapeutic environment
  • Improved sense of control and agency
  • Increased self-esteem, confidence, and hope
  • Emotional regulation and spiritual stimulation
  • Confrontation of fears and insecurities

Our equine therapy programming includes:

  • Animals on-site, so you don’t have to travel from our campus to participate
  • 20 horses available for use in our sessions
  • Ground and mounted skill work
  • Therapeutic trail rides throughout our 55-acre ranch
  • Guided therapy by our equine therapists

Who Can Benefit from Addiction Therapy with Horses?

Addiction or not, almost anyone can benefit from working with horses. Those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction are particularly benefited from this behavioral therapy because the interactions help them learn impulse control and how to be more open. It is also helpful to those struggling with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma – all situations which cause people to struggle with self-confidence and isolation.

Other conditions that can be helped with equine therapy include the following:

  • Poor communication skills
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Behavioral issues
  • Relationship problems

What to Expect from Our Horse Assisted Treatment Program in Austin Texas

Working with horses involves more than just riding, cleaning, and grooming. The therapist in charge of the session will typically set goals for each outing. For example, one session might involve the patient successfully leading the horse from one spot to another, or putting a halter on the horse. Clients will then discuss with the therapist what obstacles they encountered, how they overcame them, and how these skills can benefit them with the life obstacles they experience.  

This type of application helps people with anxiety as it encourages being focused and present instead of worrying about the past or future. They must communicate with the handler, the therapist, and the animal. Living in the moment activities like these help those with depression and other mental health conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

At The Last Resort, we have 20 horses. They vary in size and personality, ensuring that each resident can be paired with their perfect horse.

All of our horses are conveniently housed on The Last Resort’s 55-acre ranch. There’s no need to leave the premises to access our equine therapy services.

Yes, equine therapy is part of our family programming! Our team will provide you with all the information you need about preparing for an equine therapy session, including guidelines about who may participate.

We use equine therapy to work on relationship skills. Horses are prey animals, and in the wild, they move in herds. They’re very good at judging your feelings and intentions. To build a relationship with our horses, clients learn to regulate their emotions, read the horse’s expressions, and make the animal feel safe. 

Each session consists of either grounded or mounted work. Whether you are standing with the horse or going on a ride, each equine therapy session is both informative and restorative.

Yes, The Last Resort’s campus is home to miles of well-kept trails. Our therapeutic trail rides serve as an opportunity to explore emotions and reflect on one’s past. They also show our clients how to have fun without drugs or alcohol.

We understand that equine-assisted therapy might not be for everyone. Our staff members will never force anyone to interact with a horse if they feel unsafe. Our equine therapy team works closely with our medical team to determine whether a client would benefit from this therapeutic approach. If a client does not participate, our therapists will use that time to discuss relationships and emotional regulation with the client.

Overcome Your Addiction With a Unique Equine Assisted Rehab Experience in the Heart of Texas

At The Last Resort, we know first-hand that evidence based methods evidof addiction treatment are most effective when accompanied by experiential therapies. Equine-assisted therapy is an innovative and proven experiential method that helps our residents connect with others, express themselves, overcome their addictions, and prepare for a healthy lifestyle. To find out more about our proven addiction programs for men and women, including equine-assisted therapy, contact The Last Resort Recovery today.