Horses Healing People: What is Equine Therapy?

For those with eating disorders, addiction issues and behavioral problems, equine therapy for healing is improving the effectiveness of other forms of treatment and giving sufferers a new lease on life. Equine therapy is an extremely valuable treatment tool and one that many eating disorder treatment centers are already utilizing.

A wise old cowboy once remarked that the outside of a horse was good for the inside of a man, and there is growing evidence to that belief. In the old west and well into the early days of the 20th century, horses were valued as transportation and as labor, but these days members of the equine family provide an even more valuable service.

What is Equine Therapy?

For those unfamiliar with this form of treatment, the idea of horses helping people can seem a bit strange. But for those with direct experience, the healing power of horses and other equines is all too obvious.

Equine therapy is a form of psychotherapy that incorporates daily interactions between people and equines of various types and sizes, from full-size horses to tiny donkeys.1 These equines assist patients in all manner of ways, from enhancing self-esteem to giving people a new sense of responsibility.

How is Equine Therapy Utilized?

Not only has Equine therapy been used in the treatment of addiction, alcoholism and other substance abuse issues, but this unique form of therapy has also been enjoying widespread acceptance for the treatment of eating disorders. Therapists have found that interaction with animals, especially horses, can have a healing power, and that is good news for patients and their families.

Eating disorder treatment centers utilize equines in many different ways, depending upon the needs of their patients and the nature of their facilities. A large rural facility may provide formal riding lessons to its patients, while a small urban center might bring in miniature donkeys or mini horses. Simply taking care of those animals can be good for patients by giving them responsibility for another living creature while building up their self-esteem. As anyone who has owned a horse can attest, interactions with equines are never routine – the ability to deal with unexpected circumstances is a large focus of equine therapy for healing, and one of the aspects that make it so effective as a therapy.

References

  1. What is Equine Therapy?