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How Does Equine Therapy Help Anxiety?

Using equine therapy for anxiety has become more common in recent years. But what is equine therapy and how is it beneficial in the treatment of anxiety? Those who struggle with anxiety disorders know the life altering effects it can have on your life. Understanding what exactly anxiety is, and how it can affect your life is crucial to understanding how to receive help for this condition. There is help and hope for a life free of anxiety symptoms.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal part of life, most people experience it at some point or another. However when anxiety becomes unmanageable, and interferes with day to day functions, that is when it is a problem. Anxiety disorders cause intense, and unwavering fear and worry about normal everyday situations. Often this fear or worry can lead to panic attacks, and the danger or threat the person is worried about is often not what they feel it will be. This is what can make anxiety so debilitating.

Symptoms and signs of anxiety can include:

  • Nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty controlling worry
  • Avoiding anxiety triggers
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased heart rate

These are just a few symptoms, and there are many different forms of anxiety inducing conditions. A professional can help to guide you to further understanding of this condition.

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy is a form of mental health treatment that involves a person who is participating in therapy interacting with horses. An equine therapy trained psychotherapist helps people who struggle with mental health to find relief and learn coping skills. Equine therapy has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and mental health disorders. Using equine therapy for anxiety has also been proven to be beneficial.

Horses or ponies are chosen based on their ability to handle erratic and possibly unpredictable behavior from those who are participating in this form of therapy, and they are sometimes trained to help to ease the person with gentle and repetitive behaviors. This form of therapy usually begins with petting and grooming and can be led up to haltering and leading or riding. 

Types of Equine Therapy

When thinking of using equine therapy for anxiety, you’ve got to understand the different types of this form of therapy. Equine therapy can be a beneficial form of treatment for anxiety. It can also serve as an added therapy to other, more traditional therapies. Choosing to participate can help to ease the signs and symptoms associated with this condition.

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

This form of equine therapy for anxiety is a non-riding form of treatment. It is more about the interaction between the horse and the person. Horses have fine tuned senses that can mirror the person participating. Meaning that the horses can react when energy changes, they can feel when someone is upset or anxious, and help to ease these feelings. 

Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)

Another form of non-riding therapy, EAL, is used in teaching skills. Problem solving, team building, and self soothing can be taught through EAL. This can be beneficial as the person who is participating usually is unable to self soothe or manage their anxiety symptoms on their own.

Hippotherapy

This is a form of physical and occupational therapy. This form includes riding, and it is often used in treating disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, arthritis, behavioral disorders and other mental health disorders. 

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Using therapeutic horseback riding as a form of equine therapy for anxiety is a way of expanding on hippotherapy. It includes riding, as well as caring for the horses in a barn setting. This can help to develop cognitive, emotional, physical, and social skills.

What are the Benefits of Equine Therapy?

Using equine therapy for anxiety has many benefits. Some of those benefits include the fact that they are prey animals. They can pick up on the emotional state of others, and can help to teach the person handling them ways to self soothe those feelings to prevent distress to the horse. They are also able to teach someone to be vulnerable and learn to trust.

Respecting the horse and its boundaries helps foster a trusting relationship between you and the horse. This can carry over into everyday life. Equine therapy for anxiety can also help to improve mindfulness. Because horse interaction requires attention and focus, it can help to learn ways of managing behaviors that can occur as a result of anxiety. Rather than feeling chaotic and flighty, interacting with horses can help to calm the mental and physical state of the participant.

Equine Therapy for Anxiety in Marietta, GA

Anxiety can be debilitating. If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, you don’t have to continue to struggle. There is help, and hope for a life beyond the life interruptions caused by anxiety. Here at Empowered, we aim to provide the best care for those who seek it from us. We have professionals trained to help those who are in our care, and strive to help as they begin their next life chapter. Contact us today and begin yours!

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    Marietta, GA 30066

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