Horse-Assisted Therapy: Does it Work for Addiction Treatment?

If you witnessed a loved one struggle with an addiction you know the burden it puts on a person’s mind, body, and spirit. It has been noticed by experts that one reason people tend to be caught in the cycle of addiction is the damaged or dented view of themselves. 

Though it is not true, it happens so often. Those grappling with drug or alcohol abuse tend to think they are “too far gone,” and don’t deserve a chance to recover. 

There are a number of ways to approach addiction treatment. The most effective and high-quality care would include a variety of options, including traditional and alternative therapies. In recent years, there has been an increase of complementary therapies and wholistic approaches that take patients outside of a traditional, clinical setting.

Equine Therapy, also known as Horse-Assisted Therapy, has evolved as an interesting alternative approach to addiction treatment. 

This form of therapy involving horses allows patients to create a positive sense of self that is responsible, useful, and accepted. In fact, for quite a long time this method is being successfully used for people with a variety of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

More recently, several addiction recovery centers in the United States and Canada offer rehab programs that include equine therapy. These facilities noticed that patients who participate in horse-assisted therapy are more likely to complete treatment and stay engaged throughout their recovery process.

This could be because this form of therapy offers the person recovering from addiction an opportunity to feel useful, motivated, and connected to the bigger picture of their life. This treatment option seems to be especially helpful for those who have a treatment goal of improving relationships and building personal responsibility.

One point to note is that the Horse-Assisted therapy is not about riding horses. It is actually interacting with horses and, as strange as it may seem, working through emotions such as resentment, fear, anger, sadness, resentment, joy and peace. 

According to experts, horses mirror human feelings and facilitates us to get in touch with our emotions. Horses respond to people around them through non-verbal signals. In the context of addiction therapy, these signals help the patients to learn and better understand themselves. This is the key factor in the healing process because many patients avoid feeling their emotions for a long time and are not sure how to effectively manage them anymore.  

There is something magical about horses. It is possible that patients not familiar with horses could be skeptics at first but those who tried usually say that once they get started interacting with the horses, their doubts disappear.

It is also important to note that sustaining sobriety is a tough journey, and while long-term success can be built on therapies such as this, long term results are achieved by a strong support network, including aftercare services.

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