A commercial for a hospital system shows a little girl apprehensive about the treatment she has throughout the day. A doctor comes in and suggests they try something different. As a friendly therapy dog enters the room, the girl’s attitude is immediately uplifted while she pets the dog who’s resting its head on her hospital bed. This commercial is one of many examples of how an emotional bond with animals can unlock a new path to healing. 

That concept is one of the core motivations behind addiction rehab centers that use equine assisted therapy programs as part of their treatment process. In this post, we’re going to explore what equine assisted therapy programs are and how they help people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction heal. 

What Are Equine Assisted Therapy Programs?

Equine assisted therapy programs, also known as horse therapy, allow clients at an addiction rehab center to take care of, feed, and in some cases ride horses as part of their treatment. Each week, clients are scheduled to go out to the stables and spend one to two hours with the horses. These treatment programs are led by a professional equine therapist who’ll spend the first couple of sessions teaching clients about how to safely interact with the horses. 

Once the basics and safety procedures are taught, clients will then spend their time grooming, feeding, and even riding the horse. The goal is for clients to develop a bond with the horse they’re caring for so the relationship can blossom into a trusting friendship. 

How Does Equine Therapy Help with Addiction Treatment?

At their core, equine assisted therapy programs are about boosting the confidence and self-esteem of people struggling with addiction. It all starts with some of the unique attributes of the horses themselves. Horses are naturally social pack animals and can actually sense the emotions a person is feeling. In many cases, a horse will know when you’re feeling happy, upset, angry, stressed, anxious and so on. 

So how does this help people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction? By working with horses, you’ll gain an unbiased insight into how your behaviors and attitude affect those around you. You’ll start to notice how the horses react to your mood. Once you know this, the goal is to change your attitude and behaviors to be more positive. 

The Benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy

Now that you’ve learned what equine assisted therapy is and why it’s used to treat people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, let’s explore some of the main benefits. The benefits of equine assisted therapy in addiction treatment are psychological, physical and emotional in nature. 

The relationship you build with a horse acts as a foundation for the equine therapist to aid in your recovery. This process can teach you how to form healthy relationships while you’re in treatment, which is a useful skill once you reach long-term recovery. Some of the other benefits of equine assisted therapy include: 

  • Improved communication skills 
  • Renewed trust in others 
  • Better control over impulses 
  • Increased knowledge about relationships and social cues 
  • Practice building healthy boundaries 
  • A higher level of self-confidence 

One of the most impactful benefits of equine assisted therapy is that the process can help you learn how to trust again. Horses are gentle animals by nature and are known for being straightforward with their actions. While you’ll have to work to earn their trust, there are no ulterior motives, and you can focus your energy on learning to build healthy relationships. 

Discover Premier Equine Assisted Therapy in Arizona

Fountain Hills Recovery is one of the premier luxury addiction treatment centers in Arizona that offers equine assisted therapy to help you break free from the hold substance abuse has over your life. We have expert equine therapists ready to help you build meaningful relationships with horses to advance your recovery. If you’re interested in learning more about how equine therapy can help you reach lasting sobriety, contact our team today.