People think of many things when they hear the words “addiction treatment.” Talk therapy, medications, and inpatient procedures all jump to the forefront. Riding horses doesn’t.

Yet equine-assisted therapy at an addiction treatment center can be very helpful. A 2016 study found that patients learned self-confidence and gained energy from the therapy.

Some people remain skeptical of it. How can it help with treatment for addiction? Does it stand on its own, or do patients pursue other remedies?

Answer these questions and you can pursue a holistic approach to addiction treatment. Here is your quick guide.

What Is Equine Therapy?

In equine therapy, patients interact with horses. They do get to ride and maintain them, and many people find the experience pleasurable.

Horse therapy goes beyond a mere stress-reducing technique. Patients learn several skills while interacting with horses.

Horses are perceptive animals. They can respond to emotional cues in human beings.

A therapist can look at a horse that a patient is riding on and glean what the patient is feeling. This builds trust amongst the therapist, patient, and horses. This also allows the patient to gain self-awareness, as they can look at their horse and understand their own emotions.

Horses are confident and clear animals. They do not follow instructions from a person who harasses them. This helps patients learn about boundaries, shaping how they interact with others.

Equine therapy also helps a person improve their posture. You can only ride a horse if you are sitting straight on its back. The patient can improve their overall health and avoid pain-reducing drugs.

What Does Equine-Assisted Therapy at an Addiction Treatment Center Entail?

Equine-assisted therapy occurs at a treatment center. Not all centers offer this kind of therapy, so do your research if you want it. Centers have staffers that look after the horses.

Most therapy sessions last for an hour or more. This gives plenty of time for patients and horses to interact.

While on their horses, patients may participate in other therapies. They may talk one-on-one to a psychiatrist. They can tell stories and practice talking to others about addiction.

Equine therapy works best when incorporated with other strategies. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) trains a patient in several areas, including mindfulness and distress tolerance. These are similar to what a patient learns on horseback, so DBT may be a good accompaniment.

Patients can talk to their doctors about what they want to do, including on a horse. Their voices are respected at all times. If they want to start or stop equine therapy, they can do so at any time.

Pursue a Holistic Treatment for Addiction

Equine-assisted therapy at an addiction treatment center is becoming one of the most popular strategies for managing addictions. Yet people remain uncertain about it.

Horses can pick up on subtle emotional cues. Looking at a horse can help a person understand their feelings. They also learn personal responsibility by caring for the horse.

Sessions last long enough so the patients can participate in different exercises. Therapy is one strategy to help a person recover. It works well with one-on-one talk therapy sessions.

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