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Equine Therapy in Atlanta, GA

For nearly 60 years, people have been incorporating horses into therapy, citing their calm nature and pleasant demeanor. Currently, more people seeking treatment for such mental health disorders as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder are turning to equine therapy in Atlanta. As this fascinating therapeutic approach continues to gain in popularity, so does its demand. Equine therapy teaches us to maintain relationships and develop skills of confidence, communication, and trust. Spending time with horses and being close to their calm nature will have you feeling calm and relaxed as well. By learning more about equine therapy, we hope to provide an alternative method of treatment.

woman hugs a horse during equine therapy in Atlanta, GA

What is Equine Therapy?

Also known as equine-assisted therapy, equine therapy involves personal interactions with horses and other equines in a safe, controlled environment conducive to healing. It became popularized in America during the 1960s and was originally used for those suffering from physical injuries. As time passed, more people began to see the benefits of equine therapy.

Decades later, during the mid-1990s, people began experimenting with the treatment of mental health disorders with equine therapy. Many alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs also employ equine therapy. In recent years, several industries have emerged around the equine therapy community, allowing for more innovation.

Equine therapy in Atlanta may not be suitable for everyone and should never be considered a replacement for therapies prescribed by licensed physicians. Still, many people have found it to be right for them. Equine therapy has proven to assist clients in developing life-changing skills to better their health and mental state. It is also known for strengthening people’s spiritual connections and bonds. Each patient will interact with a horse while a trained therapist will observe the behavior, emotional reactions, and thought patterns of the patient.

Equine therapy is meant to calm the mind and ease the senses from needed substances. Attending equine therapy will help the brain and body relax, decreasing the risk of relapse. If you struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders on a daily basis, let your mind and body take a break with equine therapy in Atlanta.

How Does Equine Therapy Work?

Horses are uncommonly sensitive to non-verbal communication. They remain mentally and physically prepared to respond to their environment in the present moment. Their overall surroundings dictate their behavior, directly or indirectly altering the therapeutic narrative throughout an equine therapy session. Client, horse, and trained specialists work together on specific treatment plans that utilize the horse in different ways.

The different approaches to equine therapy include:

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

This utilizes a mental health professional, an equine specialist, and horses all working together to heal the patient. EAP is the use of horses to treat psychological problems. Usually, this sort of treatment method utilizes groundwork with horses, such as grooming, feeding, and ground exercises. This allows patients to learn more about themselves, their behavior, feelings, and thought patterns. The goal of EAP is to help in social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral ways.

Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)

This experiential learning approach promotes the development of life skills through equine-assisted activities including grooming and feeding. EAL helps patients with a heightened development of self-awareness and to think in a new way. The three main areas of concentration in EAL are education, professional development, and personal development. Clients will gain self-confidence by learning how to work with a large animal and how non-verbal communication is important and can affect others in their lives.

Hippotherapy

“Hippo” comes from the Greek word for horse. During hippotherapy, clients with speech deficits or other physical disabilities work with a riding team to develop posture and muscle strength. Hippotherapy often involves an occupational, physical, or speech and language therapist.  The horse is controlled by a handler and led through several different gaits, tempos, and directions. The different movements of the horses will challenge the rider to use different postural responses, thereby strengthening the muscles of the rider.

man cares for a horse during equine therapy in Atlanta

Who Benefits from Equine Therapy 

Everyone can benefit from equine therapy, however, those who are dealing with mental health disorders or addiction to drugs or alcohol will especially benefit from this therapy. Addiction provides stress and difficulties in the user’s daily life. Even though we provide talk therapy and other kinds of beneficial services, equine therapy is different in that it offers metaphorical relationships and experience training with a calming animal. 

Each and every one of our horses is trained to be in this program to help others overcome stress and build themselves up. Horses are especially known to have a keen sense of other behaviors, which is great to learn from. Patients will be able to practice their non-verbal communication and how to maintain and help relationships grow. Those going through addiction recovery will benefit from this approach to therapy to open their mind and actively participate in caring for horses, which will then help people learn to care for themselves and others. 

If you or a loved one suffers from behavioral problems or addiction, equine therapy may be the right option for therapy. The horses do not hurt you, but instead, they help you. Because of their immediate feedback to reactions, patients will have more of an understanding of how to interact with others without the fear of judgment. If you want to learn in a relaxing and calming environment with beautiful creatures, equine therapy will definitely assist you in your addiction recovery journey.

How Equine Therapy Aids in Recovery

Working with horses improves self-love, mindfulness, and empowerment. Most importantly, it helps build trusting relationships. Many of the exercises utilize metaphors for life and the challenges addiction has brought into the lives of patients. Since horses are pack animals, they can respond to others’ feelings, which can include feelings like fear, anger, sadness, or anxiety.

Equine therapy in Atlanta can be especially useful to people going through addiction treatment because it offers the following:

Immediate feedback

Because horses can sense feelings and respond accordingly, they often act as a mirror for the patient to see and understand feelings that they may not be aware of. Through this approach, patients will be able to learn how to interact and cope with any stressful situations that might come in the future.

Opportunities for learning

The patient can use their interactions with the horses to evaluate and modify the ways they interact with people. Also, the therapist can use the horse to start conversations about addiction and other sensitive issues. This will allow others to learn in opening up and developing skills in communication.

Opportunities for trust building

A patient who might feel uncomfortable in the traditional therapy setting might find equine therapy a safe environment to open up and develop trust. Horses are known to develop loyal bonds with others, and that bond will allow patients to find comfort in a non-judgmental environment.

Healthy relationships

Horses offer people a non-judgmental relationship, which can help patients struggling with the consequences of their addiction and build confidence. By working with horses, patients will get the sense of working with others. As a result, they will learn how to develop strong bonds with others.

woman forms an emotional bond with horse during equine therapy

Begin Equine Therapy in Atlanta, GA

Here at Empowered Recovery Center, we want to help you in your personal recovery journey. Located in Marietta, Georgia our staff is ready to give you the tools necessary to reclaim your freedom. We offer multiple pathways to recovery, including equine therapy in Atlanta, to help with your individual situation. There has never been a better time to regain control of your life. Contact us today to learn more about how equine therapy can help in your recovery journey.

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