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Equine-Assisted Therapy

Using Equine-Assisted Therapy as SUD Treatment

In recent years, equine-assisted therapy (EAT), or equine therapy, has become a more common component of substance abuse treatment because horses are capable of mirroring human actions and emotions. The mirror between guest-and-horse promotes increased self-awareness, as well as providing insight on how each guest is perceived by those who engage with them.

equine therapy

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine-assisted therapy introduces horses into the therapeutic process within addiction treatment. Under the supervision of a mental health professional, guests engage in activities surrounding the care and comfort of horses.

Although some guests may feel intimidated by the presence of a +1,000-pound bi-ped, these majestic horses actually provide therapeutic healing for those who choose this program. One of the many forms of animal-assisted therapy, equine-assisted therapy provides a safe space for guests to heal from their trauma and grow as individuals.

Do Horses Help In Therapy?

Horses are notably prey for predatory animals, so they are naturally sensitive to their environment. This sensitivity makes them particularly responsive to human cues, making them the ideal animal for addiction recovery-sensitive therapy. Additionally, the juxtaposition of a horse’s considerable size and its tranquil nature teaches guests to overcome their fears and regain trust.

Another benefit of equine therapy is that horses cannot display emotions in the same ways that humans can which afford guests the opportunity to build relationships with the animals without perceived judgment. The experiences each guest has with the horses act as metaphors for their human relationships. These interactions with horses aid in the treatment of substance use disorders as they improve relationship skills, which are necessary for building a recovery support network.

Equine Healing at Sound Recovery

Equine therapy is one component of our expansive holistic approach to recovery-sensitive therapy at Royal Life Centers at Sound Recovery. During our twelve-week aftercare program, outpatient guests enrolled in equine therapy visit a local horse sanctuary during group hours. While at the horse sanctuary, guests participate in therapist-led EAT sessions. These sessions involve petting, grooming, caring for, haltering, and/or leading one or more horses. However, guests do not ride the horses during therapy. With our program, therapists guide guests in a variety of exercises and ask questions— Why might the horse react this way? How do you think you should reapproach the animal?— to encourage discussion and thoughtful consideration of emotions and feelings. The goal is that guests begin to better understand themselves and the relationship between mind, body, and self.

Benefits of Horse Therapy in Treatment

At Royal Life Centers at Sound Recovery, our main goal of equine therapy is to help guests develop skills focused on mental health. In fact, this therapy helps guests manage symptoms of co-occurring disorders with substance abuse, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Notably, horses are prey animals, so they are naturally sensitive to their environment. This sensitivity makes them particularly responsive to human cues. One of many benefits of EAT is that the animal’s sheer size can help guests learn to trust and overcome fears. Benefits of EAT:
  • Increases cognitive function
  • Expanses emotional awareness
  • Boosts confidence
  • Lowers stress
  • Reduces dysfunctional thinking
  • Encourages positive thinking
  • Introduces problem-solving skills
  • Develops trust and empathy
Equine-assisted therapy can also be considered a form of adventure therapy, and experiential therapy meant to directly engage guests during their treatment. These forms of therapy benefit guests by encouraging them to learn firsthand how to build a sound recovery plan for a life free of substance dependence. To learn more about our equine therapy program at Royal Life Centers at Sound Recovery, please contact our admissions team, at (888) 716-4070 They are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about any of our programs. Because We Care.

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