Mental illness and addiction can be overwhelming, and recovery usually consists of trial and error. There are many challenges that people face when learning how to cope with mental health and substance use disorders. Fortunately, help is available. Maybe you didn’t know this, but horses can help with the recovery process. Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a treatment program offered at our Palm Springs, California drug rehab that promotes healing in patients by allowing them to interact with these wonderful animals in a safe, comfortable, and peaceful setting.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Also, referred to as equine-assisted therapy and equine horse therapy, equine therapy is a type of experimental mental health and addiction treatment in which the person interacts with horses. This form of psychotherapy is designed for people of all ages and has been shown to treat a wide range of disorders, as it addresses both physical and psychological challenges associated with mental illness and addiction recovery.

The history of equine-assisted therapy begins in Ancient Greece, where horse riding was recognized as a practice called hippotherapy. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1900s that modern psychotherapists started applying these concepts to treat polio, mental illness, and substance use disorders. With the help of various organizations, equine therapy is also accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

People of all ages can benefit from equine-assisted therapy, although Banyan Treatment Centers offer this program to individuals who are 18 and older at our California rehab. Equine-assisted therapy targets both the physical and psychological challenges of mental illness and addiction. It’s used to treat a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Asperger’s
  • Learning disabilities
  • Eating and food disorders
  • Grief and loss
  • Trauma and posttraumatic stress (PTSD)

Working with horses improves a person’s cognitive skills, emotional control, stress management, and symptoms. When working with our horses, patients work closely with counselors and trainers to ensure the environment is peaceful and the treatment is effective.

Overall, common benefits of equine-assisted therapy include:

  • Increased trust
  • Increased compassion
  • Improved impulse and emotional control
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Reduced feelings of depression and isolation
  • Increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, and social skills
  • Increased problem-solving skills
  • Improved communication skills, including non-verbal
  • A better understanding of healthy boundaries and the importance of assertiveness
  • Learning to go outside of self-centered thoughts and caring for another creature

If you’re struggling to manage symptoms of mental illness or need support in addiction recovery, our equine counseling services could help.

How Our Equestrian Therapy Can Help

Typically, individuals who are seeking equine-assisted mental health or addiction treatment work with a psychotherapist, who specializes in horse therapy and a horse trainer who is familiar with the animal and its therapeutic application. In addition to interacting with the horses, clients at our facility will also be granted tasks like feeding and grooming to build compassion, responsibility, and accountability.

Not only does working with these animals in a calm setting reduce anxiety, but the immediate satisfaction of grooming and feeding improves self-esteem and self-confidence in patients. Considering that we offer numerous levels of care for substance abuse treatment at our Palm Springs, CA drug rehab, we understand that addiction and any other contributing factors require a multifaceted form of care.

If you or a loved one needs help with addiction recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialists. Contact Banyan Palm Springs today to learn more about equine-assisted psychotherapy or our California drug treatment programs.