Who can benefit from equine assisted therapy?
While research into the effectiveness of equine assisted therapy is still in its early stages, it is thought to be beneficial for a range of different issues, including the following:
This type of therapy can be helpful for those trying to recover from an addiction. Working with horses can help addicts overcome some of the common psychological blocks when it comes to recovery. For some this involves learning to trust, for others it is about getting in touch with their own emotions. A lot of people struggling with addiction enjoy this kind of therapy as it gets them out of their own heads and doesn’t allow them to over-analyse or intellectualise everything.
Those dealing with anger can also benefit from animal assisted therapies. Horses don’t respond well to anger and this forces people to act in a different way to get the desired response. Working with horses can also encourage the person taking part to examine what they think is causing their anger and what techniques help to overcome it.
Anxiety and anxiety related disorders could also be addressed during equine assisted therapy. Being in the same space as a large animal can instill feelings of anxiety, but when you overcome these feelings and accomplish tasks with the animal – these feelings can diminish. Equine assisted therapy is also a very physical therapy, taking people away from their internal worries in a helpful way. Because of this physicality, the therapy is also a great way of bringing people into the present moment – and as anxiety is usually rooted in future worries, this can be valuable.
For people on the autistic spectrum, animal assisted therapy can be both fun and beneficial. In contrast to regular therapy, equine assisted therapy involves little verbal communication and focuses more on behaviour and non-verbal cues. This can help those with autism to understand behaviour better outside of their therapy sessions. Those who require occupational or physical therapy may also benefit from therapeutic horseback riding to further develop their motor skills.
- Behavioural problems
As we have previously mentioned, equine assisted therapy is especially effective when it comes to altering behaviour. For those who have broken the law or lack social skills, group therapy sessions can be useful. During these sessions you will be asked to work with other people to accomplish the set tasks, helping to develop communication skills and team building skills.
- Low self-confidence
Having low self-confidence can affect all areas of your life. Equine assisted therapy encourages you to confront any fears you may have and boosts confidence with each completed task. Creating a bond with the horse and learning how to interact with it in a positive and confident way can also help you to come out of your shell outside of the therapy space.
Experiencing any kind of trauma can be difficult to overcome. Equine assisted therapy uses the gentle nature of the horse to help trauma victims rebuild trust and confidence. Horses are non-judgemental and honest, and for some people who have been through a traumatic experience these are invaluable qualities.