Equine-Assisted Therapy in Mississippi
Equine-Assisted Therapy with Defining Wellness Centers
Remaining in treatment for substance use can be difficult. Motivation can be lost despite the best efforts of the client and counselor. That is where equine therapy comes into play. Also known as Horse-Assisted Therapy (HAT), this type of therapy offers vital emotional stimulation and growth thanks to the relationship the client can develop with their horse.
But how exactly does equine-assisted therapy for addiction work? What kinds of behavior is monitored, and how might it change? Let’s take a look at how HAT can help clients improve the relationships they have with themselves and their loved ones.
What is Equine-Assisted Therapy?
This is not simply horseback riding. There is more that goes into it, as horses are highly intelligent creatures that require and reciprocate trust and compassion. Riders have to be responsible for the horses in order for the horses to trust them. Going into it with this expectation can help the relationship between horse and rider flourish.
Whether you are working on a 12-step program or one of its alternatives, HAT can be incorporated into your treatment plan as a way of helping you cope with the difficult emotions that arise during treatment. It can also help you find ways to strengthen the relationships you have with family and friends.
HAT also helps with:
- Enhancing self-confidence and self-advocacy
- Balancing internal emotions and feelings
- Becoming more relaxed and mindful
- Understanding personal and interpersonal boundaries
- Developing more positive emotional growth
- Alleviating negative, unhelpful emotions
- Gaining more focus and resilience
- Developing more non-verbal communication skills
- Feeling needed and developing a connection
A History of Equine-Assisted Therapy
It wasn’t until 1952 that Danish Olympian Liz Hartel brought this type of therapy to the forefront. She suffered from polio-related paralysis and had used horseback riding as a way to build strength in her legs. By 1969, the British Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) was founded, as was what is now known as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH). They began creating safety guidelines for riders and trained and certified riding instructors. 30 years later, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) was established, offering certification in either Equine Assisted Psychotherapy or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)within the United States. Today, HAT is widely used and accepted as a beneficial form of treatment.
How accepted is Equine-Assisted Therapy in the treatment industry?
The Goal of Equine Treatment
How does a session go?
You might get to start trotting, riding, and vaulting depending on your comfort level. Your therapist will work with you to ensure that both you and the horse are ready to ride together. Some people only go through a handful of sessions while others stick with it for years; it all depends on how you progress.
How long does this therapy last?
What therapies/interventions pair well with this?
What is equine-assisted therapy best paired up with, you might be wondering. Equine-assisted treatment can be used in conjunction with other related therapies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely used for treating addiction. CBT is a method for restructuring thought processes, changing them from negative to positive (and unhelpful to helpful, unrealistic to realistic). By retraining you to recognize those distorted thought patterns, you can effectively understand your behavior and thoughts – as well as those of others – even better.
In addition to CBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) might be used in conjunction with HAT. DBT focuses on developing daily living skills in addition to cognitive restructuring. This can be especially helpful for those battling addiction, as substance use can compromise your ability to perform living skills.
Of course, Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) can be used in conjunction with any of these therapies. Depending on the substance you are addicted to, FDA-approved medications might be necessary to help you recover. The goal of these medications is to reduce cravings and normalize the body’s functionality.
Equine-assisted therapy for addiction can help you rebuild your relationship with yourself and your loved ones by having you build a trusting bond with a beautiful, intelligent, and intuitive animal. Horses have a long history of providing relief for physical and psychological conditions. We here at Defining Wellness can help you take the steps to recovery and will attest to the power of a horse’s love and trust in aiding in that recovery.
Begin your Recovery Today
If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.