For those seeking treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it may be surprising to find that horses can play a role in your recovery. Equine therapy is a newer addition to the realm of addiction treatment, and for good reason. It has been shown to have numerous benefits for clients, from improving mental health to helping improve your self-confidence. Emerge Healing Center is here to help you learn more about equine therapy for addiction, and how it can help you on your journey to recovery.
What is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy means exactly what it sounds like – therapy sessions that happen alongside horses. While it may seem like an odd idea at first, it is becoming increasingly popular in addiction therapy. It is more than just horseback riding. Most equine therapy sessions center around caring for horses. Clients enrolled in equine therapy for addiction are responsible for helping to feed and groom horses, as well as clean their stalls and common spaces. Horses are highly intelligent animals that can be wary of new people. Working with the horse over time builds a relationship between you and the horse, increasing trust through your hard work and dedication.
The Benefits of Equine Therapy for Addiction
Caring for an animal as large and as delicate as a horse doesn’t just give you time outside in the sun and fresh air. Equine therapy for addiction has quite a few benefits for those who participate in it. Working with a horse gives clients a sense of responsibility outside of themselves, acts as a distraction from drug cravings, and helps you feel a sense of achievement in your abilities. Other benefits include:
- Finding balance with your feelings
- Increasing confidence in yourself and your abilities
- Learning about healthy boundaries
- Building resilience and focus
- Learning non-verbal communication skills
- A feeling of being needed and connected to another being
- Reducing negative emotions
- Encouraging positive emotional growth
- Learning to relax and be present in the moment
Isolation is often the biggest trigger for relapse in people who have been to some form of an addiction treatment program. This happens when people do not learn how to interact with the world as a sober person. Through equine therapy, clients learn these skills with the horse; how to read signals, how to care for someone other than yourself, and how positive interactions help boost your overall mood and improve your mental health.
What to Expect During an Equine Therapy Session
If you do not have experience with horses, you may be afraid of them due to their large size. Horses, however, are extremely gentle animals by nature, and you will never be asked to do something that causes you distress. You will, however, be encouraged to take small steps out of your comfort zone, which help you to build confidence in yourself and your abilities. You will be closely supervised at all times by a trained equine therapist, which means you can expect a safe experience. During sessions, your therapist will guide you, teaching you how to properly care for the horse and ensure its well-being. These interactions will help you feel grounded, appreciate the positive impact that proper care has on the animal, and teach you that you can be successful and focused by overcoming your addiction.
Is Equine Therapy for Addiction Right for Me?
Equine therapy for addiction is a beneficial aid to clients who are looking to take hold of their lives through recovery. Many people who suffer from addiction also deal with low self-esteem and lack confidence in themselves. This can make it very hard to interact with others, and lead you to isolate yourself from society. The work you will do with horses encourages you to see how you can be successful in healthy interactions, and help improve your impulse control. Equine therapy has also been found to help with many co-occurring disorders, including:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Behavioral issues
- Communication issues
- Eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Relationship problems
Equine Therapy in Atlanta
Equine therapy is experiential therapy, which means that it utilizes activity to help clear your mind and improve overall feelings of well-being. Not only does it help clients struggling with addiction, but it also helps manage symptoms of co-occurring disorders, reduce stress levels, help you understand social cues, manage your emotions, clear mental roadblocks, and learn how to be present in the moment, even after you’ve completed your treatment.
Emerge Healing Center is proud to offer equine therapy to our clients as a complementary therapy to their other addiction treatments. If you are interested in learning more about how equine therapy can help you on your addiction recovery journey, contact us today. Our caring and highly-trained staff is here to help you by answering any questions you may have, identifying your unique treatment needs, and getting you enrolled in the most effective treatment plan possible to encourage a lifetime of health and happiness through sobriety.