Equine therapy is an animal-assisted therapy available at Bridges of Hope. This therapy often complements inpatient drug and alcohol treatment and other evidence-based therapies, allowing patients to interact with horses on a regular basis as they recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Here is how equine therapy works and how it can benefit people in recovery.
What Is Equine Therapy for Addiction?
Equine therapy is also commonly known as horse therapy, horse-assisted therapy, or equine-assisted psychotherapy. This therapy allows patients to feed and care for horses as part of their addiction recovery programs.
Patients who receive equine therapy can leave their treatment facilities and travel to horse stables at least once every other week to spend quality time with trained horses. Sometimes, patients may ride the horses, depending on the state of the horses’ health and training, as well as the unique structure of the equine therapy program.
Equine therapy programs usually last several weeks, with each session lasting between one and two hours. These programs are overseen by certified equine therapists who guide patients safely through all interactions that take place with the horses. Patients are taught the basics of horse safety during the first few sessions, and then spend each subsequent session feeding, grooming, and engaging in various exercises and activities with their horse that allow them to bond and develop a trusting relationship.
How Does Equine Therapy Treat Addiction?
Equine therapy is shown to boost the confidence and self-esteem of people who have suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, according to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. This therapy is also shown to foster feelings of trust and unconditional love in patients and to improve social functioning.
Horses are highly social pack animals that can sense the emotions of other creatures, including humans, reports Rutgers. These animals can usually tell when humans feel happy, sad, frustrated, or anxious and will respond to and interact with them accordingly. During equine therapy, patients who interact with horses can gain insight into how their own behaviors and emotions may be affecting others, so they can start working on changing their attitudes and behaviors for the better. The act of caring for horses also helps patients establish structure and routine, and helps take their mind off drug and alcohol use.
Patients can start receiving equine therapy during inpatient treatment. This therapy is normally combined with a range of other evidence-based therapies for addiction such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, and 12-step support group therapy. After each equine therapy session, patients discuss their experiences with equine therapists or other addiction-treatment professionals, and work on setting goals that bring them closer to achieving long-lasting sobriety.
Equine Therapy at Bridges of Hope
Bridges of Hope offers equine therapy, a fitness center, yoga, and many other alternative therapies that can help you safely and successfully recover from substance use disorders and addiction. Contact us today at 765-358-7320 to learn more about our many available drug rehab programs.