Recovery from addiction is often considered a tough path. People undergoing the process experience pain and discomfort; many tend to leave it midway. Researchers and therapists have been exploring innovative techniques to help the patients recover from addiction-related problems in more people-friendly ways. Equine therapy is one such mode of treatment that has gained sufficient ground in recent times.
Equine therapy falls under the branch of animal-assisted therapy, which is based on the interaction between an animal and the patient. Traditionally, the therapy has used cats and dogs to work through some of the psychological and emotional issues suffered by the patient. Following suit, equine therapy has gained popularity as an experiential therapy that involves interaction between the patient and horses to promote emotional growth.
Benefits of using horses
Horses have provided vital support in sports and battles. They are now being increasingly used by medical science to assess their benefits in helping an individual ease troubles and feel good. Horses are quite efficient in responding immediately to human interaction and needs. These beautiful animals are capable of mirroring the rider’s emotion and behavior, and altering them, if required.
One of the past studies suggested the benefits of equine therapy in promoting self-awareness and self-control, boosting self-confidence, enhancing social, emotional and behavioral skills development, and identifying and transforming any negative traits. Another study recorded observations of a 12-week program of animal-assisted therapy on patients suffering from various mental disorders. According to it, interaction of patients with farm animals including horses was marked by higher levels of self-esteem and coping ability.
One of the biggest advantages of using horses for the therapy is that they are non-judgmental and do not have any preconceived expectations or motives. Horses can detect various emotions including anger, frustration, happiness, nervousness and sadness.
Using horses in addiction treatment also has some other benefits, as outlined below:
- Promotes learning: Interaction with horses help the patient evaluate and modify his/her behavior and mood. The interaction also helps many patients to open up about their addiction behavior and the cause, thereby helping the therapist learn about any other underlying psychological or social issues.
- Builds trust: Addiction often leads the patient to withdraw from the society and friends. He/she may not feel comfortable in confiding to any person about the condition fearing they might be misunderstood or laughed upon. Interaction with the sensitive animal helps the patient in developing trust, eventually with the therapist as well and open up about the issues they are suffering from.
- Develops healthy relationships: Negativity and pessimism easily seep into the minds of those addicted to a substance. They not only have trust issues but also experience troubled relationships. In this regard, horses are non-critical. They do not pass comments or form opinions. They can instead help the patient rebuild confidence without the fear of negative consequences.
Equine therapy does not replace traditional therapies
Equine therapy is a good supportive therapy for people undergoing recovery treatment. However, the doctor is the best person to suggest the most appropriate form of treatment depending upon the patient’s needs. Before taking any treatment it is important to undergo proper diagnosis to understand the problem. Recovery from addiction is certainly possible if the symptoms are not ignored and help is sought at the earliest.
If you or your loved one is suffering from an addiction to any substance, please contact the Arizona Drug Addiction Helpline to get information about state-of-the-art drug rehabilitation centers in Arizona. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-576-4147 or chat online with our experts to get customized interventions in one of the best drug addiction treatment clinic in Arizona.