There are many tools for helping teens in crisis, and some have four legs. The National Library of Medicine reports that clinical trials on animal-assisted therapy confirm that working with animals, including horses, offers mental and behavioral health benefits. Equine therapy is one of the unique programs offered at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery.
For more information about equine animal-assisted therapy and our other programming, call Foothills at Red Oak Recovery today at 866.300.5275.
What Is Equine Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Equine therapy is an experiential type of psychotherapy. This therapy includes nearly every interaction involving a horse and a person. It is not just about the human pleasure of riding a horse. Feeding, leading, grooming, and caring for the animal’s needs are all part of equine therapy.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) requires the presence and interaction of a licensed mental health professional who has been trained and credentialed as an equine professional.
EAP is a non-verbal approach to therapy. While the therapist and client may talk to one another casually, it allows for a different type of environment than the traditional therapeutic atmosphere.
Equine therapy is not considered a stand-alone therapy but is incorporated into the client’s treatment plan along with individual therapy, family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other modalities.
The Benefits of Equine Therapy
Adolescents are most clients who experience the benefits of equine-assisted therapy nationwide. It can be difficult for teens to open up about traumatic or emotional experiences, but connecting to a horse can put them at ease.
Equine-assisted therapy allows teenagers to gain self-awareness and insight into their behaviors while also learning to put another living creature’s needs ahead of their own.
Other benefits of equine therapy include:
- No Judgment: Communication with horses is done on an emotional level that allows for vulnerability
- Fitness: Caring for horses is physical work that may appeal to some clients more than traditional forms of exercise
- Improves Self-Esteem: Clients learn new skills, overcome fears, and build bonds that help them feel accepted and capable
- Increases Attention Span: Animal caretaking requires multitasking and pre-operative thinking
- Stress Relief: Spending time outdoors in the presence of a horse helps teens manage anxiety
- Increased Adaptability: In EAP, the horse’s needs determine the schedule
- Social Awareness: Working with animals helps clients learn how to read social cues and interact with others
- Improved Impulse Control: Horses require steady, calm, confident behavior from humans
- Mirroring: Horses are empathetic animals that can help clients see themselves in an honest light
- Overcoming Fear: It takes courage to work with large animals, and EAP helps clients tap into the courage they need to overcome difficult situations.
Equine animal-assisted therapy is an effective tool for managing several conditions, including anxiety. One of the main benefits of equine therapy for anxiety is that it can help clients stay present and in the moment.
Horses are highly sensitive animals that respond to danger cues and are affected by human emotions. Clients with anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and other conditions that disrupt the natural sense of inner peace must learn to calm themselves to work with animals.
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery Offers Equine Animal-Assisted Therapy and More
If you’re interested in the benefits of equine therapy for anxiety or other mental health disorders affecting your adolescent boy’s well-being, we can help. Equine therapy is one of the many programs we offer specifically designed to assist adolescents struggling with substance use and behavioral and mental health disorders.
Call Foothills at Red Oak Recovery today at 866.300.5275 to learn more about the benefits of equine-assisted therapy and how it can support your teen boy’s journey to better mental health.