Equine therapy provides an innovative milieu in which a therapist and patient can identify and address a range of emotional and behavioral challenges. The goal of equine therapy is to help a patient develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control.
Equine Therapy involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse in a supervised environment. A therapist, often with the support of an equine professional, observes the patient interacting with the horse. During the activity and after the patient has finished working with the horse, the equine therapist can observe and interact with the patient to identify behavior patterns and process thoughts and emotions.
What are the Benefits of Equine Therapy?
Studies have indicated that equine therapy has been successful in helping patients show marked improvements in the following areas:
- Emotional awareness
- Stress tolerance
- Impulse control
- Problem-solving skills
- Social responsibility
- Interpersonal relationships
The wide range of benefits found through equine therapy are likely due to the nature of the horses with which the patient and equine therapist are interacting. Horses are highly effective at mirroring attitudes and behaviors of the humans with whom they are working, are typically non-judgmental and have no preconceived expectations or motives.
While working with horses under the guidance and supervision of an equine therapist, equine therapy patients have a unique and effective opportunity to note their tendencies to engage in self-defeating and otherwise negative thoughts and actions. These realizations can provide an excellent basis for discussion and processing both during and after the equine therapy experience.
What Conditions and Disorders can Equine Therapy be used to Treat?
Equine therapy has been successfully integrated into treatment programs for adults and teens who are being treated for substance abuse, addiction, behavior disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, learning differences, ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, grief and loss, trauma, sex addiction, compulsive gambling, bipolar, depression and related conditions.