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Benefits of Equine Therapy

May 30, 2023

Whether you have experience in riding horses, interacting with them, caring for them, or not, horse therapy can be a beneficial tool in your efforts to get sober. Equine therapy is a type of experiential treatment that harnesses the bond between people and horses to promote physical or emotional healing. Depending on your needs, many types of equine therapy may be used. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of horse therapy as part of a comprehensive executive treatment program.

People doing equine therapy learn to communicate about what they see and experience. The therapist helps you view the horse’s responses objectively. As a result, you can begin to realize how your perceptions of the world around you and of yourself may be inaccurate and how you may be projecting your own problems onto others. The benefits of equine therapy also include reducing anxiety and depression, as well as lowering stress and blood pressure. As part of a comprehensive treatment program, equine therapy can be a valuable way to help you get sober and learn how to sustain your recovery.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine or horse therapy is one of many effective experiential therapies for addiction treatment. Any style of treatment that incorporates real-life events to promote healing, growth, and change is referred to as experiential therapy. Addiction and mental health concerns have been demonstrated to benefit from horse therapy. Its focus is on guiding people in treatment to learn how to trust themselves and others, develop coping skills, and gain insight into their own thought processes and behavior.

Resuming regular activities after addiction can be difficult as people in the early stages of recovery are at a higher risk of relapse. Horse therapy provides an opportunity to practice emerging skills and habits in a real-world scenario. The skills learned in equine therapy can help you find ways to manage stress and other emotional triggers. It’s also helpful in healing as horses are nonjudgmental animals, capable of providing an immediate and honest response to your emotions and behavior.

What to Expect from Equine Therapy

It is important to understand what to expect before beginning an equine therapy program. Equine therapy is usually done in a group setting. During the session, the therapist will lead your group through a series of horse-related exercises. These activities include grooming the horses, guiding the horses around, and riding the horses. No prior skills of working with horses are necessary. The activities are carefully selected to help group members learn about themselves and their typical responses to mental health needs and choices related to substance use. By working with a horse regularly, you can learn how to get insight into your behavior, learn from others in the same setting, and develop new coping strategies.

How Equine Therapy Gets Used to Treat Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)

While physical activity itself is beneficial in treatment, equine therapy specifically can teach valuable skills needed to sustain recovery. It promotes emotional regulation, as horses are highly attuned to human emotions and can provide immediate feedback on an individual’s emotional state. It helps build trust and confidence necessary to improve your communication skills and help you learn to rebuild relationships that may have been damaged by your substance use behaviors. Another benefit of equine therapy is that it provides a sense of control, as you need to be fully present and make deliberate choices when interacting with horses. This sense of control can help you improve your ability to cope with the stress and anxiety that may have led to relapses before starting treatment.

Equine Therapy as Part of Treatment at Headwaters

Equine therapy is a component of the more extensive treatment program at Headwaters that’s customized to meet your specific needs. It can be used with executives in treatment for the first time, CEOs receiving their first dual diagnosis treatment to address both substance use and mental health concerns, and anyone else, regardless of their experience or knowledge of horses. As you may experience cravings during your stay in treatment, equine therapy can provide an important distraction from these cravings and inspire you to find similar outlets when you’ve completed the program here. Another benefit of horse therapy for the executive in treatment is developing a sense of purpose and motivation due to the sense of responsibility and accountability you practice when working with these animals.

Headwaters is a well-known care provider offering a range of addiction treatment programs for executives and their families targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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