There’s no denying that dogs and human beings share a special bond. They’re known for rushing headlong into danger without a second thought. For what reason? To protect a human being of course, and even go as far as laying down their lives for us.
They’re special and their heroic acts will forever be heralded. Yet, this special bond isn’t only limited to dogs. Animals such as cats and horses also tend to share a special bond with their owners.
Hence the reason certain therapy programs have taken to incorporating them into their treatments. If you’re reading this, you’re probably elated at this point, and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t be excited to undergo therapy with the help of an animal that shows incredible emotional support?
One such treatment is Equine Therapy. It’s been known to work for many based on the animal factor alone. Perhaps, this is the therapy you’ve been praying and looking for all along.
Well, then before you sign up for one, how about we answer a few important questions? It’s only fair that you know what to expect in a treatment program. Especially one that you know little about.
Below are some of the top questions that are frequently asked about Equine therapy.
What is Equine Therapy?
Also known as Equine Assisted Therapy, this type of therapy uses horses for their therapeutic process. This is why this type of therapy is also known as Horse Therapy. The horse is there to help the patient work through certain emotional and psychological issues.
These emotional and psychological issues are what may have led to addiction. Some may have also developed during the addiction.
With supervision from a counsellor, the patient is expected to interact with the horse. After the activity, the counsellor will then interact and observe the patient. During this session, the mental health counsellor will be looking to identify your emotional process and behavior.
One should note that these horses may have sustained injuries or be too old to ride. However, you as the patient will be required to groom and feed the horse.
These interactions are geared towards helping the patient become more responsible and develop a sense of self-worth. Additionally, the patient is also expected to learn how to control his/her emotions.
How Does This Therapy Work?
To understand the role of the horse in this treatment, we must discuss one important aspect. An addict can quickly attest that life changes once they become dependent on a substance. That is all they think about and almost everything they do is geared towards attaining it.
Hence, they tend to neglect family, friends and other major responsibilities such as their jobs. In summary, they lose their focus. By taking care of their horse, they are given something new to focus on. The addict is also given something to care about on a deep emotional level.
With this in mind, you as the patient will have to pay more attention to your emotional reactions and behavior. In other words, you’ll try to be less violent or abusive in an attempt to care for the animal you’ve bonded with.
How Did it Start?
As new as the treatment may sound, it has been around for quite some time. According to research, it can be traced back to the time of ancient Greece. The famous physician Hippocrates wrote about horses and their benefits to improving mental and emotional health. Given the effectiveness and the growth of Equine Therapy, it is obvious that he wasn’t wrong.
Who Is It For?
This therapy is effective and appropriate for anyone, regardless of age, gender or race. This means that the program is appropriate for children, teens and adults.
If you would like to join, do not be afraid to seek advice or medical counsel. Facilities that offer this kind of treatment are known to alter the therapy to meet their patients’ needs adequately. Also, if you know you struggle with the following mental or psychological issues, you should join:
- Abusive behavior
- Substance Use Addiction
- Sex Addiction
- Eating Disorders
- Compulsive gambling, etc
What are The Benefits of Equine Therapy?
Immediate Feedback – Horses are known to be sensitive to a person’s emotions. Hence, they tend to mimic a person’s behavior or even what the person may be feeling. This shows that they are connected to the patient.
The patient can use this to understand how they’re feeling or behaving at the moment. For example, if they are calm, the horse will be calm as well. This is how the patient will learn to control his/her emotions.
Creates a Safe Place – The fact that the horse can understand your emotions and behavior, helps you create a bond with it. This connection usually makes the patient feel safe, understood and not judged.
It can be hard to open up about emotional wounds, even to someone trying to help you. Yet, with the horse present, opening up to a counsellor can be a lot easier.
- Ability to tolerate emotional distress
- Helps create social awareness
- Improves self- esteem and confidence
- The patient is likely to learn how to control his/her impulses
- Creates emotional awareness
- Improves one’s ability to create and maintain long term relationships
- Builds empathy
- The program equips patients with problem-solving skills
- The patient grows more responsible as he/she takes care of the horse