What Is Equine Therapy?

Animal assisted therapy is a growing field that utilizes animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems. Animal assisted therapy can be a useful element of addiction recovery as it helps reduce anxiety and depression, additionally interactions with various types of animals offer different opportunities to learn useful coping skills. Equine therapy is a kind of animal assisted therapy with horses that is increasing in popularity for addiction recovery thanks to it’s the positive effects. At Rise in Malibu, we utilize this type of therapy for our clients. 


What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy, also known as horse therapy, equine-assisted therapy, or equine-facilitated psychotherapy, is a kind of animal therapy involving equine activities in order to promote physical and emotional growth. Equine therapy, animal assisted therapy with horses, rose in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s after Olympic dressage rider Lis Hartel used equine-assisted therapy in her rehabilitation for polio. Today, equine riding is often integrated into addiction treatment as it offers an outlet for physical, psychological, and emotional healing. Like humans, horses have social and responsive behaviors and make connections with patients of equine therapy. Horses are also an ideal therapy animal partly because they can be trained to be gentle and patient and thus can withstand distraction and tolerate unpredictable or erratic behavior from patients. Because horses are large animals, it is necessary for an individual to gain their trust, which promotes important skills like emotional awareness, stress tolerance, impulse control, flexibility, social responsibility and problem-solving skills.


Does Equine Therapy Work?

Equine therapy is usually conducted with a professional therapist and a horse trainer and can involve more than just riding a horse. Full-size horses and smaller ponies can be used as therapy animals in equine therapy and are chosen primarily based on their disposition and ability to withstand distraction and erratic behavior. A session might begin with setting a task such as leading the horse somewhere, putting a halter on it, feeding, or grooming. These tasks help to use and improve problem solving skills as well as work on communication and interpersonal skills while working with the therapist to complete it. Communication between the patient and horse also helps to encourage skills like humility, patience, and taking care of oneself and others. 


equine therapy


Equestrian Therapy Benefits in Addiction Therapy

Animal therapy is very popular, and horses are a unique animal well suited to psychotherapy treatment. Horses are attuned to human emotion and offer empathy in a genuine way that boosts people’s self-confidence as they work with them. Practicing activities during equine therapy sessions also functions to help boost confidence by challenging the patient and pushing them out of their comfort zone to be stimulated by new activities. Equine therapy is particularly well-suited to patients who tend to engage in self-defeating or negative thoughts because interactions with horses can help to identify and improve these behaviors, thoughts, and emotional patterns.


Equine therapy can benefit a variety of patients and those struggling with addiction can certainly benefit from the positive effects of therapeutic interactions with horses. Equine therapy has been shown to reduce psychological distress for patients. Residential treatment centers are increasingly integrating equine therapy programs into their treatment plans.


Equine Therapy at Rise in Malibu

At Rise in Malibu, we believe in a holistic approach to treatment. Our focus on the whole individual means we tend to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health by using assorted therapies with proven benefits. We take advantage of the benefits of equine therapy, integrating it into our individualized treatment programs. At our luxurious treatment center in Malibu, CA we offer a range of amenities and therapies to tailor treatment to individual patients. To learn more about the benefits of our program, contact us today

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