Addiction treatment has evolved over the last few years. More and more it becomes clear that successful recovery requires an individualized, multifaceted approach. This means using different methodologies and therapies to heal and treat the addicted person.
Using Horses To Heal From Addiction
Equine therapy has been used in recent years to assist in therapy for persons with issues ranging from trauma to autism to severe behavioral problems. Horses and people have worked well together for thousands of years, relying on each other for companionship. Horses appear to have a calming effect on people, who intuitively respond to them.
There is a nonverbal level of communication between humans and animals that lends itself to the therapeutic setting. This creates a peaceful, non-confrontational environment that helps to build trust and compassion.
So how does equine-assisted therapy work for addiction? It is important to realize that treatment for addiction isn’t just about drugs and alcohol. Yes, abstinence from substances is a big part of the goal, but it isn’t the only goal. Many people come into recovery deeply wounded. They have often suffered trauma, and may be currently dealing with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
In addition, newly recovering addicts are quite often still in survival mode and are reluctant to trust or open up to others.
The presence of horses in the therapeutic setting alone can create an environment that facilitates trust and openness. With the direction of the therapist, much progress can be made in improving the client’s emotional state and making more rapid progress with other therapies.
Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and stress, increase confidence and self-esteem and increase levels of empathy and compassion.
An Introduction To Equine Therapy For Addiction
So how does equine assisted therapy work for addiction treatment? Clients will work with a specially trained therapist who is certified to work with animals in a therapeutic environment. Activities are directed, and may consist of spending time with the animal, caring for the animal or doing specific activities such as leading or riding the horse.
These activities may seem purely recreational at times, but even in a relaxed, casual setting, work is being done and progress is being made. Leading the horse through a series of exercises helps the client learn leadership skills, build trust and confidence and also develop impulse control. These qualities are a necessary part of the recovery process. As the participant builds self-esteem, self-efficacy and impulse control, these qualities help to create changes in thinking and behavior that are conducive to long-lasting sobriety.
How Guardian Intensive Outpatients Equine Therapy Can Make A Difference
Our program utilizes multiple types of therapy to help clients heal and recover. Our animal assisted therapy program is just one of many therapies designed to provide a comprehensive level of addiction treatment that many treatment centers simply do not offer.
Animal-assisted therapy has been proven to help those who are struggling with addiction, ADD, depression, trauma and other challenges to healing, thrive and grow. Addiction treatment isn’t just about drugs. Substance abuse is a symptom of the disease of addiction, a disease which affects the mind, body and spirit. Healing those must be a focus if long-term recovery is to take place.
Equine therapy is something that participants look forward to and enjoy. It provides an opportunity to connect with horses, therapists and each other as trust and compassion blossom and grow in this healing environment.
Begin The Road To Recovery With Guardian Intensive Outpatient
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our program can help. Guardian is an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and we offer treatment for drug and alcohol addiction using a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to treatment that includes individual, group and family counseling as well as holistic treatments and 12 step integration.