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Equine Assisted Therapy

We have known the therapeutic benefits of animals in psychiatric settings for centuries. Combine this with humans’ connection to horses, and the popularity of equine assisted therapy (EAT) makes sense. This therapeutic approach has shown promise in recent years. While it’s unlikely to replace medications, EAT can be a powerful tool for improving mental health.

Transformations at Mending Fences understands the importance of offering a variety of therapeutic approaches. Even the best treatments for mental health and substance abuse disorders don’t always work on their own or for everyone. Equine assisted therapy is just one of the many interventions that help us create the right individualized treatment plan for every client.

What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Therapeutic approaches that involve horses go much further than just having patients ride or pet the animals. Equine assisted therapy is an umbrella term that describes a variety of experiential treatments that involve different activities with horses. The therapists who provide this service undergo training in EAT and the traditional mental health field.

Those who experience this therapy will often groom, handle, observe, engage in groundwork or ride the horse. Terminology is not yet consistent across the field due to its relatively new use, but there are common terms that describe separate types of therapy that fall under this umbrella. The following have garnered the most frequent usage:

  • Equine-assisted learning (EAL): This approach helps patients learn improved life skills.
  • Interactive vaulting: Therapies that involve vaulting.
  • Equine-assisted psychotherapy: Mental health professionals offer traditional therapies while clients groom, feed or engage in other equine activities.
  • Therapeutic horseback riding: When observing appropriate safety measures, horseback riding can be a powerful tool in therapy.

These equine assisted therapy terms describe a large portion of therapeutic offerings involving horses, but many other approaches exist. Additionally, some of these treatments go by other names depending upon the practitioner. This approach has found use in the treatment of anxiety disorders, dementia, trauma, drug abuse, eating disorders and other mental health issues.

Does Equine Assisted Therapy Work?

Modern mental health therapies often haven’t undergone the amount of research conducted on traditional therapies. This is true with EAT, but new studies are frequently emerging. One area where the debate seems to have settled is the fact that horses offer therapeutic benefits simply by being around. In fact, this is true of just about any animal.

Fortunately, equine assisted therapy seems to function in more dynamic ways than traditional animal-assisted therapy. The exact mechanisms of how this works constitute a minor mystery in the field, but this doesn’t mean much to those who benefit from the therapy. The big takeaway from many studies is that EAT should serve as a complementary intervention to other treatments.

Transformations at Mending Fences has long understood the importance of combining therapies for maximum effectiveness. None of our clients are exactly the same, so it’s important to individualize treatment plans. Contact us today to learn more about our approach. We’ll craft a customized therapeutic approach that focuses on your specific needs. 

Benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy

Therapies involving equine activities have shown promise in treating a variety of mental health disorders. This is because the activity provides several significant benefits. Once you understand exactly what equine assisted treatment can provide, it becomes clear why it’s so beneficial:

  • Anxiety reduction.
  • Builds self-esteem.
  • Increases confidence.
  • Develops self-concept.
  • Improves non-verbal communication.
  • Decreases isolation.
  • Helps modulate unhealthy impulses.
  • Improves understanding of boundaries.
  • Allows spiritual growth.

Something about having a majestic living being involved in therapy makes the entire process so much more effective. Therapeutic approaches involving horses won’t remove the necessity of medication for those who need it, but it serves as a powerful tool in psychotherapeutic regimens.

Start Equine Assisted Therapy Today

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to treating mental health disorders. The backgrounds, experiences, lifestyles and symptoms specific to a person can have significant effects on the best treatment plan. This is why it’s so vital for treatment facilities to provide a range of therapeutic offerings, and equine assisted therapy has recently shown increasing promise.

Transformations at Mending Fences focuses on offering the best path to treatment for all our clients. This means that – if researched therapies prove helpful for some people – we ensure our clients have access to them. Undergoing treatment assisted by these majestic creatures isn’t right for everyone, but for many, it can mean everything as a complementary intervention.

Contact us today to learn more about our equine assisted therapy and how it can help you take your life back.

Sources

Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/helping-kids-cope/201903/equine-assisted-therapy-unique-and-effective-intervention

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wild-thoughts/201010/helping-horses-equine-assisted-psychotherapy-eap

Nursing Open
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6917924/

Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-07424-003

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287109738_Equine-Assisted_Psychotherapy_for_adolescents_experiencing_depression_andor_anxiety_A_therapists_perspective