Equine-Assisted Therapy: Addiction Treatment on the Trail

One of the most popular forms of experiential therapy designed to address addictions to alcohol and drugs has actually been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Equine therapy was first introduced by the ancient Greeks as a therapeutic aid to treat a whole host of conditions.

Today, many rehabilitation facilities are using equine therapy as part of a holistic approach to addiction recovery. In this form of therapy, with the help of a trained professional, the individual working to overcome addiction issues participates in a variety of guided exercises including grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse.

Why Equine Therapy?

There are many hypotheses about equine therapy and why it is so effective in the treatment for addiction and co-occurring disorders. Many addiction counselors recommend animal-assisted therapy simply because it presents an opportunity for the individual to interact with the animal in a non-judgmental way. A relationship can be forged without the anxiety of being judged for their prior life of addiction.

The Health Benefits of Equine Therapy

By interacting with the horse and learning new skills, clients are able to support their sobriety by demonstrating substantial improvements in many areas including:

  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Stress tolerance
  • Independence
  • Self-regard
  • Social responsibility
  • Interpersonal relationships

Proven Health Benefits of Equine Therapy

And, scientists have even proven the health benefits of equine therapy. In one study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy. One group trained with horses, another group worked with dogs and the third (control group) didn’t have any interactions with animals. At the end of the trial, both of the groups who received animal-assisted therapy reported a sharp reduction in anxiety levels – with the group participating in equine-assisted therapy receiving the greatest therapeutic benefit.

This suggests that equine-assisted therapy can help alcoholics and addicts alleviate stress and anxiety, which are common relapse triggers.

Find Addiction Recovery at our Hillside Estate

Utilizing a non-denominational 12 Step recovery foundation, in addition to Dialectical Behavior Therapy, enables Infinity Malibu clients to learn skills of mindfulness, distress tolerance and emotion regulation. Clients learn to self-soothe and to live life without the use of alcohol or drugs by engaging in a variety of holistic treatments including yoga and equine therapy. Call (888) 266-9048 to learn more.

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