The Benefits of Equine Therapy for Mental and Physical Health

Equine therapy, also known as equine-assisted therapy, is a type of experiential therapy that has been used for several years to treat physical disabilities and genetic disorders, such as autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, Down syndrome and other genetic syndromes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries. It is also beneficial for people with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Research has found that equine therapy is effective for children with cerebral palsy, behavioral tics, motor control problems and coordination problems, and for people of any age with reduced mobility.Equine-assisted therapy is generally a team effort in which a mental health professional works with a horse specialist. Clients who participate in equine assisted therapy often seek help for emotional or behavioral problems.

It generally does not involve horseback riding; participants will feed, groom, and guide horses when they participate in equine therapy. Often, a mental health professional and a horse professional will be present at the equine therapy sessions.The EAP is an interactive process that requires a licensed mental health professional, a duly accredited equine professional, and an appropriate equine to work together to address specific psychotherapy needs and general objectives, which you and your therapist develop together. Equine-assisted therapy can provide a number of therapeutic benefits to people who have physical and mental health problems.Then, the person who participates in equine therapy will interact with the horse in a meaningful way, whether by feeding it, grooming it, or simply watching it. Some people begin to see the benefits of equine therapy in as little as two or three sessions, but your mental health professional will work with you to create the ideal treatment program for your specific situation.

The cost of equine assisted therapy sessions is dictated by the professional and varies depending on several variables.Generally, the goals of equine therapy are to address emotional and behavioral challenges outside of the traditional treatment environment and to develop and hone specific skills. Equine therapy sessions are usually held in a center specially designed for horseback riding and interacting with horses. In addition, equine therapy can be used as a form of counseling for couples and for the formation of groups and teams.Although studies are limited, there is evidence that equine therapy has successfully helped patients with emotional awareness, empathy and interpersonal relationships, improving concentration, limits to learning, reducing aggression, relaxation, self-respect, social skills, stress tolerance, and trust issues. In addition, since equine therapy is usually goal-oriented, it allows the group to work together to achieve a common goal.Adverse side effects of equine therapy are rare, but cases of decreased self-esteem and increased aggressiveness have been reported in younger participants.

There are some specialized programs for veterans that incorporate elements of equine learning and horse-assisted therapy. The person participating in equine therapy will work with their mental health counselor to set the goals of the session; each session will likely look different.

Jeri Heifner
Jeri Heifner

Subtly charming coffee enthusiast. Lifelong tv scholar. Hardcore internet fanatic. Freelance beer ninja. Incurable web nerd.

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