You might not think of horses when you think about mental health counseling. Think again, though, because interaction with animals is a very powerful way to promote healing when it comes to psychological distress.
One form of therapy used is called equine-assisted therapy. What is equine therapy, you ask? It’s a treatment that incorporates horses.
We’re going to take a look at horse therapy today, giving you some insight into what it is and how healing with horses can be beneficial. Hopefully, the ideas below will inspire you to seek alternative treatments for yourself and explore the option of healing with the help of animals.
What Is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy brings patients into contact with a particular horse and provides opportunities to develop a relationship with the animal. Naturally, a horse can’t ask you about your feelings or provide valuable insight through words, but there are tangible benefits to dealing with horses and their emotions.
Horses have emotional intelligence and responsiveness that reflect our own. Further, they’re empathetic animals that offer support when an individual is struggling or dealing with trauma.
That support might be a nudge or a neigh, but it’s there. Even if we’re misreading the body language of the animal, a majority of individuals feel a positive connection when responded to by an animal, especially one that they have a bond with.
Equine therapy is coupled with mental health counseling in most cases, but there doesn’t have to be any particular order in which that happens. In fact, starting with equine therapy is a good way to get people to open up when human therapy comes around.
Horse Therapy as a Stepping Stone
A great example of horse therapy’s efficacy is how it works with individuals who have PTSD.
Those who have had traumatic experiences in war, for example, might not be ready to disclose those experiences. The emotions tied to those traumas might be buried even further.
Establishing a relationship with the animal in the name of getting help is a good way to ease those emotions loose. Riding a horse with a counselor or others who have PTSD is a great way to start things.
The individual doesn’t have to talk about their specific traumas, just ride along on a horse, maybe using a horse tracker to keep notes on their riding time. When the time is right, the person might talk about PTSD in general, or start to circle ideas that surround their trauma.
It’s one thing to sit down with someone, look them in the eyes, and pour your heart out. That can be stressful, even intimidating. Other people might be more comfortable relating in the context of a shared activity like horseback riding.
Want To Learn More About Horse Healing?
So, what is equine therapy going to do to help? It might be a pathway to more specific discussions and healing. It can open a person up and allow emotions to flow a little easier.
There’s a lot more to learn, though, and we’re here to help. Explore our site for more ideas on equine therapy benefits, healing with horses, and more.