Former members of the Armed Forces face countless difficulties when they return home. Among these, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most serious. A variety of treatments have proven effective for this condition, but equine therapy for PTSD has been particularly useful. In fact, it’s become a central aspect of many veteran treatment programs.
Transformations at Mending Fences offers equine-assisted therapy (EAT) — and several other therapeutic offerings — as a way to help vets cope. Of course, you understandably might wonder if this approach is right for you. Can equine therapy for PTSD really help veterans who suffered trauma? When you consider the science and benefits, the answer becomes clear.
Contact Transformations at Mending Fences today to learn how we can help you take your life back.
One of the most common signs of PTSD is feeling a lack of control. Many veterans encountered traumatic situations while in the service. These could range from Military Sexual Trauma to near-death experiences. Regardless of the underlying event, a feeling of helplessness is often the final result. Using equine therapy for PTSD treatment can help reverse this for veterans.
Scientific studies have consistently shown improvements in self-esteem and self-efficacy during therapy. There’s a form of communication between the client and horse, and this can lead to heightened confidence levels. The animal also offers immediate feedback, so the process grants a feeling of control over the situation.
Equine therapy for PTSD treatment can help veterans in many ways. If the only thing it accomplishes is making them feel in control of their life again, though, then this therapeutic approach was a success.
Unfortunately, veterans often return home with trust issues. This is true even among those who don’t develop PTSD. Vets affected by the condition, though, have even bigger problems with trusting people. For those undergoing equine therapy for PTSD, though, it’s possible to overcome these difficulties.
Just like a veteran, you have to earn a horse’s trust. Through interactions with the animal, a camaraderie develops. The daunting size of horses is what makes them particularly useful for animal-assisted therapy. A sense of safety forms on both sides of this interaction. This ends with the horse trusting the patient, but it also helps the patient learn to trust again.
When you can form a connection with such a large animal, it serves as a reminder that trusting in others and in oneself is okay.
Following equine therapy for PTSD, you can see a marked change in people’s lives. They often regain confidence and a sense of control. They’re frequently able to lead perfectly normal lives. Some of the effects from this approach, however, are not visible with the naked eye. When you review patient brain scans following therapy, though, it becomes obvious why veterans benefit from EAT.
A recent study published in Human Brain Mapping found physical changes in the brains of patients who underwent equine therapy for PTSD. This is essential since posttraumatic stress disorder causes its own alterations in brain chemistry. That change is an unfortunate reality for our veterans, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Our brains control everything about us. By repairing or even altering some of the neurological damage caused by PTSD, equine therapy offers real hope to those who served in uniform.
Symptoms of PTSD can worsen quickly, so mental health treatments that work fast are beneficial. Of course, there is no rushing therapy. Everyone heals at their own pace, and a variety of factors can affect treatment times. From most studies we’ve seen on equine therapy for PTSD, though, positive outcomes typically don’t take long.
One recent study found clinically significant reductions in PTSD symptoms after just six weeks. In reality, it may not even take that long. The same study found that — while not clinically significant — PTSD patients saw a statistically significant improvement in symptoms in just three weeks. This offers hope for those who have struggled with posttraumatic stress for too long.
Of course, this is no guarantee the therapy will work as quickly for you. In fact, other approaches may be better in your situation. This is why it’s so important for any mental health treatment center to provide a variety of therapeutic offerings.
Posttraumatic stress disorder affects every aspect of a person’s life. Unfortunately, these burdens far too often fall on the shoulders of veterans. With the use of equine-assisted therapy as part of a customized treatment plan, though, it is possible to start living the life you want. When you realize you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Transformations at Mending Fences offers equine therapy for PTSD and other conditions. Our therapeutic team is trained and certified in this therapy and many others. If you’re ready to get on the path to mental health, the first step in your journey is only one phone call away. Contact us today to learn how our approach to mental wellness can help you.
Military Medical Research
Human Brain Mapping