Equine Therapy in History and Culture
Out of all the experiential therapy offered in addiction treatment, Equine Therapy is one of the most advanced and intuitive treatments you’ll find in recovery. Equine Therapy is a treatment that uses horses as co-therapists in treating patients suffering from the emotional and mental imbalance that feeds their addiction. At Enlightened Solutions, we are one of the few recovery centers to integrate this experience into methods of traditional talk and group therapies. Equine Therapy is known to be used as early as the 1940s in Europe, but it is thought to have even been used by Ancient Greeks and later, documented in 17th century literature as a cure for a variety of ailments, helping those in need of stress reduction and to ease, ’outside influences that could taint the spirit.’ Looking at the cultural evidence and the impact of these magnificent animals, equines of all types have helped with addiction and mental health for centuries.
Emotional Connections and Increase in Communication
For our clients, holistic and creative experiences present possibilities – seeing beauty in recovery and their life in sobriety. Incorporating these alternative treatments into the healing space, we have researched and practiced a variety of methods with the potential to increase mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. The connection we share with animals increases the ability we have as individuals to further understand our behaviors and emotions as we interact with nonverbal life forms and learn to communicate through feeling. Our clients participate in exercises that drive communication, understanding, and being present in the moment. Addiction is heavily entrenched in past thoughts that weigh us down, but our 12 step philosophies tell us simply to acknowledge and move forward. We must be present in the now and forgive ourselves for our past if we’re ever to move on toward happiness, comfort, and love.
How do we do Equine Therapy at Enlightened Solutions?
At Enlightened Solutions, Equine Therapy is a practice rooted in emotional connection and reflection. Our horses are gentle creatures that are comfortable around humans and are known to soothe stress and anxiety, as well as reduce the feelings of guilt and depression deep within each addict we treat. Your equine therapist and the horse you work with will help you get accustomed to interacting with a nonverbal animal. Many clients lack experiences with horses, so before we begin equine therapy, we prepare each client with what to expect when they enter the stables. Horses are attuned to our emotions and any energy we exude, so whatever you feel, these horses will pick up on it. For clients that have a difficulty understanding or verbalizing feelings, working with equines offers emotional mirroring and the opportunity to help unpack the heaviness in your heart so that you can examine it.
Benefits of Equine Therapy:
- One-on-one sessions
- Positivity exercises
- Practicing mindfulness
- Cultivating inner peace
- Experiencing positive nonverbal communication
- Understanding emotions
- Experiencing what it feels like to be present
- Learning to gauge our emotions and how those emotions affect others
- Finding happiness in recovery
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of guilt
- Shedding the need for substances
No one wants to upset a horse – they’re sweet and noble, which is why this treatment works. Our clients want to emulate the feelings these horses give off. Horses only know how to live in the present moment, so they’re aware of everything that happens around them. They are peaceful, calm, and strong, which appeals to our clients that are working to build confidence and a mindful lifestyle for themselves. As you work with these horses, you will learn how to balance your emotions and to discard those that only hinder your progress. Recovery is about letting go of the things that no longer serve your purpose so that you are able to live a happy and healthy life.
Many of our clients working on their 12 step program and mindful practices find that they cherish the time they spend with these animals and learn how to communicate love to the animal. The lesson of putting positive emotions out in the world comes through in these equine therapy sessions, because we are rewarded with peaceful and comforting experiences. The joy that we cultivate as we bond with our horses shows us that that same joy is possible in our life with family, friends and our intimate relationships.