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Equine Assisted Therapy: When Horses Help You Heal

Published on 10. 20. 2016

When you’ve envisioned what drug rehab may look like, did you imagine coming face to face with a 700 pound horse? At Hawaiian Island Recovery, you’ll have the opportunity to do just that. Equine assisted therapy is one of the many creative ways that Hawaiian Island Recovery will allow you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a nontraditional setting as you pursue recovery.

Equine-Assisted-Therapy

PHOTO VANOVA via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

 

What is animal assisted therapy?

Animal assisted therapy involves you interacting with an animal as part of your therapy. While this could be with dogs, cats, and even dolphins, equine assisted therapy specifically involves working with horses.

The Addiction Recovery Guide lists a number of physical and psychological benefits of animal assisted therapy, including:

  • increased beta-endorphin levels (pain-reducing hormones);
  • decreased stress levels;
  • reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension, and anxiety;
  • improved social functioning;
  • and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience, and self-esteem.

Equine assisted therapy, in particular, is used to treat a wide variety of mental and physical illnesses, and the participants at Hawaiian Island Recovery have experienced many of these listed benefits when working with our equine assisted therapist.

 

Does equine assisted therapy really work?

There are several trusted sources that support the claim that equine assisted therapy can be a beneficial part of your drug rehab.

One study found that animal assisted therapy with farm animals (including horses) had “positive influences on self-efficacy and coping ability among psychiatric patients with long lasting psychiatric symptoms.” Because drug and alcohol addiction is a mental illness with long-lasting symptoms, it stands to reason that patients in drug rehab therapy could see similar benefits.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. lists the potential benefits of equine assisted therapy in her article with PsychCentral as: providing insight for observation and growth, offering instant insight, fostering a healthy relationship, and building trust. 

Foundations Recovery Network offers additional insight on how this works. Because horses are pack animals, they can actually sense and mirror your feelings. As you interact with them, you can begin to recognize and describe emotions you haven’t yet identified.

Experts in drug therapy and beyond agree that there is more to equine assisted therapy than a welcome distraction. It can provide valuable tools that are highly beneficial on the road to recovery and sobriety.

 

What can I expect from my equine assisted therapy experience at Hawaiian Island Recovery?

Participants in equine assisted therapy participate in groundwork, which involves working with the horse while standing on the ground. You may help with care taking, leading, feeding, or grooming. The more time you spend with these loving and happy animals, the more you may find them bringing out the very best in you.

As the horses mirror and reflect your emotions in different ways, you may be surprised at what you learn about your own feelings. As your self-awareness increases, you may find that the experiences you have with the horses can make it easier to communicate your journey to others. 

The pivotal insights that some gain during equine assisted therapy provides ongoing inspiration for their commitment to long-term sobriety.  You may also discover greater self-esteem, empowerment, improved interpersonal relationships, greater self-control, and increased happiness as a result of your equine assisted therapy at HIR.

 

Contact Hawaiian Island Recovery today!

If you’d like to learn more about animal assisted therapy at HIR, please contact us today. Creative therapy options like equine assisted therapy are one of the reasons why so many of our clients have nothing but good things to say about their time with us and go on to live successful lives free of addiction.

 

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