What Is Equine Therapy?
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Equine therapy, which is also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy or EAT, is a program that encourages individuals to work with horses to treat a variety of conditions from drug addiction to physical or psychological conditions. It can be used to treat:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Alcohol and drug addiction
- Mental health problems
This kind of therapy is not meant to replace others, but instead, to be used with them.
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What Benefits Does Equine Therapy Offer?
In 2014, the journal Neurology pointed out that one of its studies found that simply riding a horse can improve a person’s mood and balance. While there is insufficient medical evidence at this time to support equine-related treatment for those with mental-health conditions, two reviews have agreed that the treatments do no harm and can encourage a bond between an individual and animal.
What Kinds of Equine Therapy Are Offered?
When you’re getting started with equine therapy, you may hear it referred to as EFP or EFL.
What is EFL?
EFL stands for Equine Facilitated Learning. Nearly anyone can use this kind of therapy and be certified to provide it to others. Teachers, coaches, and others may get a certification to use a horse to teach through equine-facilitated activities. The skills learned through EFP include:
- Creative thinking
- Relationship skills
- Non-verbal communication
Here are a few examples of how this can help someone struggling with addiction. For instance, if you are struggling with alcoholism because you can’t say no when someone asks if you want to drink, you likely need to work on your assertiveness and confidence. When you ride a horse or work with one, you must be assertive and confident in your actions. Learning to take control of your situation gives you a new way of thinking that you can apply to other areas in your life.
What is EFP?
EFP stands for Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy. It is a process that encourages someone with psychological issues to work with a horse to overcome some of those problems and to learn new coping mechanisms. The goal of this process is to encourage the client to explore how he sees himself and those around him. It shows how patterns of behavior can affect the horse, and therefore all aspects of life.
Only certified mental health professionals can provide EFP, because the goal is to work through a therapeutic session with the horse while exploring the inner psyche.
How Many Sessions Do I Need?
The amount of sessions you need may vary, but most equine therapy programs provide 8 to 10 sessions with your horse or the horses available. During each session, you’ll work with the animal, learn to balance your emotions and become assertive without aggression, and learn to interact in a healthy manner.
Sometimes, patients need to work on their relationships and the way they interact with others over a longer period of time. Because of this, equine therapy can be extended for several months or longer, so the patient has more time to interact with horses on a day-to-day basis. This gives the patient more time to create a deep and lasting relationship with the therapist and animal, which can help them learn to trust and interact in day-to-day life. Because the program is so long, it may be a mix between working with the animals and working in office-based therapy sessions. Those sessions focus on how interactions with the animal went in the past, how to change those interactions in the future, and what the patient can take away from the experience and apply to his or her own life.
Do Equine Therapists Need to Be Certified?
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, which is known as PATH, accredits centers that provide equine therapy to those with physical challenges, developmental disabilities, and mental health disorders. A second organization, The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), can certify organizations that are using horses for one-on-one interaction with those struggling with their mental health.
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How Can I Learn More or Get Started With Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy can be beneficial to anyone struggling with addiction, but it’s particularly well received for those with mental health conditions. If you want to learn more about how equine therapy can help you or a loved one, you can call us at 1-877-959-7271. Our helpful specialists are standing by to take your call, so you can learn more about this program and others that may be of benefit to you. If you’d like to learn more about the addiction recovery programs in your area and the holistic options that may be available, you can visit us online at https://findaddictionrehabs.com/, where we have many articles and documents on various treatments and how they can help you overcome addiction in your life.
Anna M. joined Find Addiction Rehabs with extensive experience in the field of addiction treatment. As a former Nurse Practitioner in Miami, she found her passion for addiction treatment when a family member was lost to his disease. With each article and resource, she hopes to save other families from experiencing the anguish of a loved one’s passing due to drinking or drugs.