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Equine Therapy

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picture of a person feeding a horse by hand as part of equine therapy for addiction treatmentOne of the greatest gifts life can award is animal companionship. There are many reasons why animals make such great companions. Animals provide unconditional love and nonverbal emotional support, and on top of all that, they are often cute as can be. When animal companionship comes up, most conjure a mental image of a dog, cat, or other common household pet, but that hardly scratches the surface of what animal companionship can provide.  

Animal friendship has proven to be so beneficial to emotional well-being and quality of life that, in recent years, animals have been incorporated into therapy. Many studies have shown the positive effects of animals on mental health, resulting in a plethora of animal-based therapy treatments being developed out of the 20th century. These treatments commonly come in the form of a service or emotional support animal, a designation given to animals trained and certified in providing various services and responding to certain situations. A lesser-known form of animal therapy is equine therapy. Equine therapy is a form of mental health treatment where professionals work with patients and guide them through activities, evolving horses, horseback riding, and horse care. When looking for alternative forms of addiction counseling in North Carolina, consider equine-assisted therapy provided by Insight Recovery.

What Is Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy?

Everyone responds to mental health treatment differently. Some enjoy sitting with a therapist and discussing their emotional issues, while others may find the idea uncomfortable. Equine and animal-assisted therapy provides an opportunity for those who have trouble adhering to the format and contents of a traditional therapy session. As opposed to sitting one-on-one with a therapist in an office, equine therapy takes place at a certified facility specializing in human interactions with horses. These interactions can take the form of horseback riding, horse care/maintenance, and equine-assisted learning to help patients achieve a particular goal or aspiration. Equine therapy programs are capable of treating a variety of mental health conditions, including: 

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Behavioral problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Relationship issues

Two or more individuals typically craft treatment plans, one who is a trained and certified therapist and one who is a trained and accredited horse specialist. Together, they will assess the patient’s status and create a tailored treatment plan based on their needs and requirements. 

What Does Equine Therapy for Addiction Look Like?

When most hear the term equine therapy, they often assume that it is a treatment based on the act of horseback riding. While horseback riding can be an active component of treatment, it is not the center focus. Equine-assisted therapy, in practice, combines the methods and techniques associated with common forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, with horse care and maintenance. Patients are educated and trained in multiple areas relating to horse care, such as feeding, cleaning, grooming, and maintaining the emotional well-being of the horse. This kind of care teaches patients to focus on a particular goal, to be selfless in the face of mounting responsibilities, and teamwork, as patients must engage with their therapist and horse specialist to ensure that the needs of the horse are met satisfactorily.

Whereas some might find it challenging to maintain motivation in other therapy programs, equine-assisted therapy provides extra encouragement to patients because they are caring for a living, breathing animal with needs, wants, and emotions. Equine-assisted treatment teaches many skills that can be applied to the struggles associated with addiction. These include:

  • Improving confidence and self-esteem
  • Establishing boundaries
  • Understanding the boundaries of others
  • Selflessness
  • Improved communication skills (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Mindfulness
  • Resiliency 

During treatment, therapists will take the lessons and skills learned in horse care and apply them to the issues and needs of the patient to draw parallels between their perceived strengths and weaknesses. This cross-examination gives patients an enhanced perspective on how their thoughts, behavior, and emotions affect their overall mental health. 

Equine Therapy Programs in Asheville, North Carolina, at Insight Recovery

Everyone responds to therapy differently. Some enjoy more traditional forms of treatment where patients and therapists sit one-on-one in an office, but others might find this method uncomfortable or unproductive. That is why it is so important to consider alternative forms of therapy to ensure that the patient’s needs are met in the best way possible. 

At Insight Recovery, we believe therapy treatment programs should fit the patient’s needs, not the other way around. We offer a wide range of therapy treatment programs and constantly tailor treatment to the requirements of our clients. For more information on equine therapy or to schedule an appointment today, reach out to the Insight Recovery Team at 828.826.1376 or contact us online.