We have written previously about our Equine Assisted Therapy Program with therapist DeAnna Wahlheim. If you are unfamiliar with this therapy please click on this link which will describe it. I just finished reading an article summarizing 24 studies regarding equine assisted therapy. I thought I would share a few thoughts concerning what they found.
“There is increasing recognition and integration of Equine Assisted Therapy in the traditional mental health field. Evidence supports the effectiveness of treatment with horses in a therapeutic environment. Studies have resulted in a body of literature supporting the therapeutic value of the human-animal interaction, Equine Assisted Therapy can help clients with depression, anxiety, ADHD, conduct disorders, and other
mental health difficulties.”
The studies found many benefits, I thought I would concentrate this blog on the 4 that impressed me the most:
The first step in this Therapy is to trust - the horse, the therapist, and yourself. This is an important step towards growth in relationships and healing. Learning to trust an animal such as a horse is very powerful in the development and restoration of trust for those whose ability to trust has been violated by hard life experiences.
Research on the human-animal interaction shows that contact with animals and horses significantly reduces physiological anxiety levels. Some children and teens are initially afraid of horses but with the support of an expert therapist and a trained therapy horse, children grow in the ability to trust and anxieties are diminished.
Children and teens who struggle with impulse control and emotional regulation can benefit tremendously from Equine-Assisted Therapy. The need to communicate with a horse calmly and non-reactively promotes the skills of emotional awareness, self-control, and impulse modulation. Equine-Assisted Therapy is effective in reducing children's irritability, agitation, and impulsivity, and increases cooperation, regulation, and behavioral control.
Working effectively with a large animal can be intimidating and this therapy provides the foundation for children to learn how to be more assertive, clear, and directive. Communicating effectively with a horse and engaging in challenging exercises that include the horse help the child to demonstrate initiation, assertiveness, and direction. These are all skills that enable them to express their needs and feelings more effectively in relationships with others. If you would like to contact the Center regarding our Equine Assisted Program please call or email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.