Vertava Health of Texas offers our own Equine-Assisted Learning, available since spring 2018.***
At Vertava Health of Texas, we use a holistic approach to treatment to help our patients heal and change our treatment methods to fit each patient’s needs. Aside from our evidence-based addiction treatment modalities, we offer you activities and services to enhance your treatment experience including our equine-assisted learning.
The History Of Equine-Assisted Learning
Contrary to what you might think, equine-assisted learning does not necessarily incorporate riding the horse during the learning sessions. Equine-assisted learning was originally used in the mental health field to help people with mental health disorders, developmental disorders, and instances of sustained trauma. Over time, its applications has been extended to other areas including addiction medicine. Paired with our primary treatment modalities, equine-assisted learning may promote healing for some patients.
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Understanding Equine-Assisted Learning
As the teacher witnesses your interactions with the horse, namely how you react to the horse’s behaviors, they will be able to develop a more clear idea of the areas that you may struggle with on a personal or interpersonal level.
The study elaborates on this concept, stating that “A client’s interpretation of a horse’s movements, behaviors, and reactions determines the meaning of the metaphor and, as such, provides a portal for the resolution of unfinished business.” In many cases, a person who has a drug or alcohol addiction will use the substance to self-medicate, instead of confronting the situation or emotions in their lives that may need resolution. Equine-assisted learning may provide some individuals with a non-judgemental and proactive way to accomplish this goal.
How Do You Interact With The Horse During Equine-Assisted Learning?
Some people may find it daunting to interact in such close proximity with a large animal. Horses are very gentle and patient creatures. Please be advised, we will never make you do something that you are uncomfortable with, and you will always be closely supervised by individuals who are highly trained and familiar with horses. Also, it is important for you to realize that you do not need any prior experience or training with horses to take part in this activity.
During the course of our equine-assisted learning sessions, you will spend one-on-one time with the horse. You will have the opportunity to groom, feed, and exercise the horse. Though simple, these activities are essential to the horse’s well-being, in a capacity that might remind you of the essential nature of your own self-care. It can be empowering for some to be responsible for another creature’s welfare. Perhaps your addiction has depleted your self-confidence and sense of self-worth. Having an opportunity to be in control and in this silent communication with these gentle beasts, may make you more grounded and centered in who you are.
As you break down these barriers, you may become more open to positive and affirming mindsets. You may also gradually learn to work through the negative and damaging emotions that your addiction fed off of and learn valuable coping skills.
Equine Assisted Learning for Addiction
Although equine-assisted learning may not be an evidence-based means of treatment for substance use disorders specifically, it may have certain benefits for some patients when combined with our primary treatment modalities.
Equine-assisted learning may help some patients to:
- Learn to manage your emotions
- Foster a sense of confidence and assertiveness
- Better understand the importance of boundaries
- Become more resilient and focused
- Learn critical non-verbal communication skills
- Feel connected and needed
- Banish negative emotions and foster positive emotional growth
- Relax and be present in the moment
- Become more independent and self-sufficient
Because substance abuse and addiction may have damaged your life in innumerable ways, these things are all critical for a person who is working towards lasting recovery. It can be tempting to look back and berate yourself for the mistakes you made, an action that can be very detrimental to your state of mind and forward progress. Additionally, as you look forward to facing the unknown—the unfamiliarities of a sober life—you may be apprehensive or fearful. The resolution you achieve in these areas during your sessions may help you to overcome these thoughts and learn to be more mindful and present at the moment.
Take control over your addiction. Look inwards and find the strength and perseverance that is necessary to obtain a drug-free life. You don’t have to do it alone; instead, allow Vertava Health of Texas to support and guide you through these tumultuous waters towards higher ground. Contact us and learn more about how, with our help, you have the power to transform your life.
- The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International) — Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy
- Taylor & Francis Online — Equine Psychotherapy: Worth More than Just a Horse Laugh
- Animals & Society Institute — The Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Experiential Therapy: Results of an Open Clinical Trial