Equine Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Equine therapy, also known as horse-assisted therapy (HAT), is a psychotherapy used in addiction rehab. This article will explore how equine therapy works, the benefits of equine therapy, and how equine therapy can help drug addiction recovery.

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy is a type of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in which horses are incorporated into the therapeutic process when treating mental health and addiction disorders. It is a type of psychotherapy in which people interact with horses in a variety of ways including:

  • Feeding the horse
  • Helping to stack the hay
  • Grooming the horse
  • Leading the horse

The goals of equine therapy encourage developing new skills including: 

  • Emotional regulation
  • Self-confidence
  • Responsibility

With the help of horses, people of all ages can learn how to trust, communicate effectively, and learn to trust.

How Can Equine Therapy Help Addiction Recovery?

Horses can offer a huge amount of emotional support for people going through intense substance use disorder treatment. One study found that participants in the equine therapy program found it to be “a pleasant variation from their usual treatment and as something to look forward to.”

Equine therapy on its own is not enough to treat drug and alcohol addiction, but it has been found to complement and enhance behavioral therapies including those offered at Restoration Recovery Center such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Trauma therapy
  • Group therapy

Along with complementing the other behavioral therapies offered at drug rehabs, equine therapy has been found to increase motivation. A prospective study of horse-assisted therapy (HAT) for young adults found a statistically significant association between equine therapy participation and time in addiction treatment.

What Happens in an Equine Therapy Session?

At Restoration Recovery Center, patients participate in a wide variety of activities in equine therapy including:

  • Feeding the horses
  • Grooming the horses
  • Leading a horse

All participants are supervised by mental health professionals to ensure safety and proper treatment of the horses.

Benefits of Equine Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Research on equine therapy and animal-assisted therapy in general as part of substance use disorder treatment has found many benefits including:

  • Bolstered motivation to be in treatment
  • Getting active and feeling useful
  • A sense of identity
  • A change of focus
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Comfort and reduced loneliness
  • Increased mental stimulation

The simple act of petting an animal like a horse triggers an automatic relaxation response. For many, it can be a happy distraction from the more serious and mentally taxing aspects of addiction treatment.

Find Equine Therapy for Addiction Today

If you or someone you love may have a drug or alcohol addiction, treatment is available. Call Restoration Recovery Center’s compassionate team below for more information on how to start rehab, how to pay for rehab, how equine therapy for addiction recovery works, and more. Or, verify your insurance now. Don’t wait, get the help you need today.

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