Did you know that Equestrian therapy , also known as Equine Assisted Therapy, treats trauma survivors and the entire family?
Equestrian Therapy is known in trauma therapy industries as Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP). In fact, this style of therapy involves horses as a way to build emotional growth. Those unfamiliar with this method of treating PTSD may find it quite unorthodox. Specifically, because it gives trauma victims therapeutic care in a setting unlike what the general public is familiar with. Typically, trauma therapy would take place within the walls of the therapists office. However, Equestrian therapy has proven that clients experience less pressure talking about their trauma and correlating issues to an animal. At the same time, they are completing an activity assigned by their therapist. In turn, resulting in higher success reached in far less time than common therapy. For example, most Equine Assisted therapy programs take six months. Instead, of several years it may take in private counseling to make headway in one’s PTSD recovery.
PTSD survivors participating in activities using a horse achieve long-lasting results. Primarily, because they process feelings, behaviors, and patterns designed from a particular exercise. The setting removes the pressure or qualms that a therapists office can induce. Especially for adolescents, naturally responding better in a less intimidating setting.
Basic Understanding of Equestrian Therapy
Many improvements a PTSD survivor will see include personal growth development. For example, Equine Assisted Therapy combines efforts of a licensed therapist, a horse professional, and a client. Important to point out, the objective of Equestrian Therapy isn’t riding or owning a horse. Instead, the activities are done on the ground. In most cases, the horses are not ridden, and usually are not tethered in the arena, but allowed to roam free. Exercises can be as simple as giving the client a halter, and letting them figure out how to approach the horse and put it on.
Given that, why horses? Animal-assisted therapy has shown evidenced-based capability in trauma clients. With attention to combat and non-combat related PTSD, depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and dissociative disorders to name a few. With intent on gaining self-understanding and promote emotional growth. Equestrian therapists recognize potential bonding between animals and humans. In turn, leads to emotional healing from a client bonding with their horse companion.
Equine Assisted Therapy Breaks Through Barriers
Significantly, skills developed from equestrian therapy are some of what PTSD survivors never realized they could learn. For most, they have tremendous guilt from having PTSD. Then, other mental health issues piggy-back PTSD only making matters worse. Basically, when someone suffers the effects of PTSD, or associated mental illness, it deletes their perception of self-worth. Although this may be true for most, equine assisted therapy can build healthier perspectives. At the same time, teach them how to break through these barriers. Revealing a stronger, self-confident, and very capable individual.
First, confidence is attained through learning a new skill. In this case, training on how to care for their horse. In effect, eliminates insecurities regarding their PTSD recovery. Becoming aware of their ability to undertake new projects leads to a healthier self-esteem. Then, experiencing harmony with an animal promotes renewed feelings of accomplishment. Motivation replaces feelings of inability by empowering them to try new methods towards recovery. Next, Horses’ sensitivity to non-verbal communication reinforces recognizing a PTSD survivor’s emotions. Equestrian therapy relates non-verbal cues and the essential role non-verbal communication has in personal relationships.
More to Gain From Equestrian Therapy
Trusting an animal such as a horse begins a process of restoring a client’s trust in their world around them. For example, PTSD victims who once trusted people or a specific person may have been violated. Consequently, causing severe trust issues. Equine assisted therapy guides someone through such traumatic experiences in order to find security in trusting people again. Another benefit from Equestrian therapy is gaining new healthy perspectives. Overall, through taking care of their horse, through cleaning and feeding, clients are “in the moment”. Ultimately, they’re able to take focus off their mental illness and redirect it caring for an animal they’ve bonded with. Especially, remaining in a mindset of depressive ruminating. But, instead devote attention and interests toward interacting with their horse.
Important to point out, are several studies of human-animal interaction. Reports indicate that contact with animals quickly lowers anxiety levels. Although, there are PTSD survivors who are initially afraid of horses. That actually relates to most people in general. But Equine assisted therapy horse’s unique personalities and affection alleviate these fears. Influencing clients to embrace exposure therapy regarding their anxiety issues.
Consider Trying Equine Assisted Therapy
Several trauma survivors have previously been in a controlling or abusive relationship. Through Equine Assisted Therapy, healing begins with a mutually respectful relationship between a client and their horse. Furthermore, decreasing isolation, promoting self-acceptance, and shaping necessary social skills. Such as, communicating appropriately through assertiveness. And lastly, pushing oneself outside of their comfort zones.
Overall, most people and families facing mental illness, like PTSD, have been emotionally inhibited. In other words, over-controlled resulting in loss of estimated inspiration and spontaneity. Ending on a positive note, the playful perspective of riding, as well as, equine assisted therapy and activities restore a client’s desire for healthy recreation and play. Before you go, I invite you to read a couple of other valuable articles that you will benefit from. Most importantly, help through your journey of PTSD survivors recovery.