Individuals coping with substance use and related disorders benefit from healthy, supportive relationships to help enhance their sense of self-confidence and autonomy, and to cope effectively with life’s challenges. Equine-assisted therapy offers clients the opportunity to develop productive relationship skills in an emotionally safe environment. Due to their herding instinct, horses attempt to cultivate mutual trust and respect, patience and compassion, assertiveness and sensitivity, focus and perseverance and, like people, respond positively to relationships characterized by these elements. As clients practice the use of these skills during the therapy, the horses respond in kind, rewarding and reinforcing the clients’ development of healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms. These skills contribute to the clients’ ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with family members and friends, instilling a sense of self-confidence and autonomy which enhances the clients’ ability to cope with life’s challenges without the use of substances. Equine assisted therapy is facilitated by a licensed mental health professional and an equine specialist.
Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy
- Increased tolerance for frustration
- Improved self-esteem and motivation
- Development of mutual trust
- Awareness of hidden abilities
- Improved attention and interpersonal skills
- A sense of accomplishment applicable to other activities in life