Horse therapy is a good option for people struggling with psychological disorders. You frequently see children with autism and ADHD participate in this treatment. But did you know that equine assisted therapy also works well for people in addiction recovery? What is it about the equine therapy that speaks to you?

Equine Assisted Therapy Facilitates Introspection

Smiling woman petting a horse during equine assisted therapy session.The horse doesn’t judge you. It also doesn’t make demands. In fact, horses are amazingly keen when it comes to gauging a person’s mood. Animals trained for participation in equine assisted therapy won’t shy or make loud noises.

Sometimes, program participants fear the large animals. A trainer will work with you to ensure that you feel comfortable around the horse. This professional typically stays nearby to assist if you need help. And because there’s usually no horseback riding as part of the experience, you don’t have to worry about fitness.

Instead, you might care for the horse’s basic needs. You might feed the animal treats and exercise it by walking it across the yard on a lead. People quickly build relationships with the gentle animals. They start talking to them and sharing some of their thoughts about the drug treatment programs they’re undergoing.

Working with a Horse on a Regular Basis Leads to Accountability

However, there’s another reason why specialists incorporate equine-assisted therapy in drug treatment. The simple practice of caring for the large animal on a regular basis leads to the development of personal responsibility. Before long, you start to take ownership of the animal’s wellbeing. Even though you know that the animal is well, you still feel responsible for making sure it has food.

The development of this thought process supports relapse prevention. Taking responsibility and setting up a schedule that you adhere to shows healthy personal growth. As you interact with the horse, you gain an appreciation of your ability to work with the animal. In this way, equine assisted therapy contributes to self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-worth.

Equine Assisted Therapy Cannot Stand Alone

Although working with the horse results in tremendous personal growth, this modality can only be one part of addiction therapy. Other treatments are also part of a comprehensive approach to healing, such as psychotherapy.

You meet privately with a therapist who helps you understand why you use drugs or alcohol. This professional may engage in cognitive behavioral therapy, which encourages you to uncover negative patterns. As you recognize them in your thinking and acting out, you find ways to replace the habits with healthy ones. Doing so encourages you to process trigger situations differently.

Another approach includes dialectical behavior therapy. Sometimes, program participants are in situations that they can’t change. In these instances, it’s vital to be able to control emotional responses. By disarming stressors and finding new ways of incorporating them into daily life, you lose the craving for the drug.

Additional therapies include dual diagnosis treatment as well as group sessions. In groups, you learn with peers and interact. As you do so, you build your self-esteem. You also try out the coping skills that you learned during psychotherapy.

How Experiential Therapies Round out Evidence-Based Modalities

Horse therapy is only one type of experiential therapy that builds on the evidence-based treatments you undergo in rehab. Others include:

  • Hiking, which helps you test your mettle against nature while spending time away from electronic distractions
  • Rope course participation as a means of working in groups and effectively cooperating with peers
  • Art therapy, which allows you to express your thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal way
  • Fitness therapy as a method for regaining your physical health, building endurance, and enjoying small victories that exercise provides

What could equine assisted therapy do for you? Maybe it’s the missing piece that you didn’t have the last time you went through rehab. Whether you’re thinking of entering rehab for the first or second time, make the change today. Contact the caring therapists at Beaches Recovery by calling 866.605.0532 now.