Equine Therapy for Addiction treatment centers

The Equine Assisted Therapy Program at Breaking Free of Addiction is a key component of our comprehensive treatment program.  Residential, Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Out patient clients participate in our Equine Therapy program.  During sessions each client works one-on-one with their own horse. Residential clients attend weekly sessions. During and after each session clients and staff review their progress with our Equine Therapist and their counselor.  Clients also complete homework assignments that integrate their equine experience into their addiction treatment program.

The Equine-assisted therapy program at Breaking Free meets or exceeds the eagala model – Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association – Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association certification standards. These groups are committed to setting the standard of professional excellence in how horses and humans work together to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families and groups worldwide.

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine-assisted therapy is an established and successful experiential therapy that has gained recognition as an effective treatment for addiction, and a wide range of mental health problems. EAP is an experiential therapy where clients learn about themselves by participating in horse activities, primarily groundwork, and evaluating behaviors and emotions elicited throughout the process.

EAP sessions at Breaking Free of Addiction are unique because they are facilitated by an equine counselor who is dually credentialed as a  substance abuse counselor CCAPP and certified horse professional. This rare combination is referred to as an equine professional. Equine professionals speed the therapy process because they can provide training and therapy without time consuming consultation.

Equine sessions center around offering activities that require clients to utilize a specific skill such as assertiveness, verbal and non-verbal communication, problem solving, creative thinking, leadership, maintaining a positive attitude, relationship building, confidence, and teamwork. EAP is effective in treating mental health and human development needs including substance abuse, ADD, dual diagnosis,, communication needs and relationship issues.

Equine-assisted therapy is especially beneficial for clients who tend to intellectualize. This helps these clients to listen more to their hearts and not live so much in their heads. “Intellectualizing is a major block to recovery for many individuals. Being able to break through this is significant for many clients.

Equine therapy helps patients get in touch with their emotions and feelings. Many patients have avoided feeling emotions for so long that they don’t know how to understand their feelings anymore. Through working with horses, feelings of fear, anger, resentment, sadness, loneliness, joy and peace are brought to surface.” These feelings are then addressed in the moment when they have the greatest impact.

Why Horses?

Horses offer several advantages, their size offers a perfect opportunity for someone to overcome fear and develop confidence. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors for dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations.

Unlike people, horses have clear boundaries, they are not judgmental, they have no hidden agenda, and they don’t have expectations or prejudices. They don’t care about your looks, and are indifferent to your station in life. The horse lives in the moment, responds by behaving without assumption or criticism. So if a person tries to intimidate the horse, it won’t work. Engagement on such a level can be extraordinarily powerful for many people.

Horses are social animals, with distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. Working with them and caring for them requires effort –there’s no easy way out. No quick fix.  Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. People complain that the horse is stubborn or antagonistic. “But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently.” And that’s a lesson well worth learning.

Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the “easy way” are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.

Equine assisted therapy is a classic example of a experiential therapy. As clients work with horses they must communicate in a very specific way to get the horse to respond. Working with such a large animal using a new language can be stressful. During equine therapy clients are often focused on the task or activity at hand — rather than on the therapeutic aspect of the experience — they are more likely to behave in a more unguarded and genuine manner. Call for more information on contracting with us for equine therapy.