Equine Therapy Helps Teens Overcome Treatment Resistance and Enables Them to Engage in Treatment

Your child will have the opportunity to take part in Equine Therapy. Many troubled teens are resistant to treatment. Equine Therapy helps to break down barriers.

In equine therapy, a mental health professional and a horse professional work together. They guide the person receiving treatment through therapeutic activities. Activities are often tailored to address the needs of the person in treatment.

Often, participants will be given tasks to perform. The actual tasks are not the purpose of the activities. The experiences, emotional expressions, and problem-solving skills that the participants demonstrate during equine therapy are the genuine reasons for this form of treatment.

Equine therapy may be used to treat emotional and behavioral problems. This article will discuss how equine therapy can improve emotional development, in particular building confidence. It will also address why insight gained through experiential therapy tends to be more memorable than insight gained from talk therapy alone.


How Can Equine Therapy Improve Emotional Development?

People struggling with mental health issues often do not know how to handle emotions. Learning how to cope with emotions is vital to successful mental health treatment. Equine therapy has helped many people learn to understand and process their feelings. Horses sense and respond to people’s emotions. Even if someone is not aware of what she is feeling, a horse will be able to sense it. 

Horses are social creatures. They innately focus on social structure within a herd. When humans are involved in equine therapy, they become like a member of the herd. Horses use their whole bodies to communicate and non-verbally express themselves, which is why it's so important for humans to be aware of the body language and how it can change depending on their mood. Besides being majestic animals, horses are also prey animals. They are highly focused on the other creatures around them out of a sense of self-preservation. This includes other animals nearby or in the area, as well as people who may be nearby.

Horses are extremely attentive to the people around them. This quality allows for therapeutic insight because horses provide an excellent mirror to what people are feeling. Furthermore, horses can also sense when something is wrong with their owner and they can use their posture to show this awareness. When people are angry or aggressive, horses become stubborn. When people are anxious, horses become skittish. When people are calm, then horses are calm. 

Often, people involved in equine therapy come to understand themselves better. Seeing the way horses respond to them enables people to finally see themselves. Working with horses can also help develop empathy. For example, if a horse becomes challenging to work with, this will lead to a discussion. Trying to guide a problematic horse can be like trying to guide a difficult teen. So, these discussions can lead to empathy towards parents and other adults.


How Does Equine Therapy Encourage Confidence?

For some people, a horse’s size can make them imposing. People beginning equine therapy may fear the horse could hurt them. These fears may bring up feelings of lack of control, feelings of inadequacy, or even past trauma. Equine therapy encourages people to learn to tolerate and process these feelings. 

During equine therapy, people learn to face their fears in a safe environment. As they do, they develop the confidence they need to overcome challenges. The confidence gained during equine therapy can help people in their daily lives. Most people who engage in equine therapy come to care for and respect horses. Horses cannot judge, blame, lie, or manipulate. They are straightforward and gentle. Therefore, they are excellent therapeutic partners. 

How Do Horses Advance the Therapeutic Process?

Equine therapy helps bring issues to the surface faster than traditional talk therapy. Because horses act as a mirror to people’s emotional state, working with horses makes it more difficult to put up barriers and hide their emotions from their therapists or themselves.

Because they are more emotionally open, individuals involved in equine therapy have more success in recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. The opportunities they have to practice emotional regulation lead to faster improvement.

Working with horses creates an engaging challenge that people remember more profoundly than conversations in talk therapy. Therefore, the experience they have in equine therapy leaves a lasting impression.

At Discovery Ranch for Girls, equine therapy is one of a variety of forms of experiential therapy. Experiential therapy guides participants through real-life experiences designed to promote personal insight.